Hitting terrorist targets with pinpoint precision Jan. 2, a U.S. Predator Drone strike killed 40-year-old Taliban commander Maulvi Nazir in his hideout in the ungoverned Waziristan region of Pakistan. While the Pakistani government has little control along the mountainous Afghan border, U.S. Predator Drone activity has grown more deadly over the years, especially since President Barack Obama stepped up the program after taking office Jan. 20, 2009. U.S. officials claimed Nazir and eight other comrades in the strike, proving the value of the United State Air Force MQ-1 Predator Drone, battle tested since 1995. While Iran claims to have cracked U.S. codes on a downed CIA Unmanned Aerial Vehicle [UAV] Dec. 8, 2011, no other country currently operates a fleet of deadly UAVs. Predator drones have practically made on-the-ground warfare obsolete in the war on terror.
When Operation Enduring Freedom began Oct. 7, 2011, only a few short weeks after Sept. 11, former President George W. Bush retaliated against the Taliban for harboring Osama bin Laden. Launching a full-scale ground war made sense then, letting the world know that there are consequences to attacking the U.S. While the Taliban didn’t attack the U. S., Bush made it clear in a speech to a joint session of Congress Sept. 21, 2001 winning him unending standing ovations, that the U.S. no longer distinguishes between terrorists or countries that harbor them. Several weeks later Nov. 13, 2001, the U.S. military drove the Taliban from Kabul. Only 18 months later, Bush mobilized the U.S. military to invade Iraq March 20, 2003. While protecting the homeland was the goal, fighting in Iraq spread troops too thin, costing untold damage to the U.S. military and Treasury.
As Bush directed the Pentagon into Iraq, the Afghan theater was put on the backburner, eventually leading to the more efficient Predator Drone Program for targeting terrorists. Having toppled Saddam Hussein April 10, 2003, the U.S. began an ambitious plan of rebuilding Iraq, something Bush promised he’d never do as the 2000 GOP presidential nominee running against former Vice President Al Gore. Over one trillion tax dollars later and a broken U.S. economy, Obama found out he can successfully fight the war on terror by remote control with the MQ-1 Predator Drone Program. Having ended the Iraq War Dec. 31, 2011, Obama fought the terror war without mobilizing the military. When Bin Laden and Taliban’s Mullah Mohammed Omar escaped from Afghanistan Nov. 16, 2001, the war on terror shifted to the mountainous region along the Pakistan border.
Calling Nazir “someone who has a great deal of blood on his hands,” Pentagon spokesman George Little confirmed at least four other suspected terrorists were killed today in separate Predator Drone attacks. CIA reports indicate that Nazir no longer sought the overthrow of the Pakistan government, confining terrorist acts to the U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan. Pakistani authorities officially view the Predator Drone Program as a violation of sovereignty, though 56-year-old President Asif Ali Zardari nods-and-winks to the U.S. Zardari knows firsthand the Taliban’s ongoing assassination attempts. Nazir swore off the militant group Tehrik-e-Taliban in 2009, seeking to overthrow the Zardari government yet was still suspected in subversive activities. Pakistan finds itself in a difficult position adopting an official Drone policy because of sovereignty issues.
Since the Predator Drone Program began in 1995, it’s become the primary tool of targeting terrorists hiding out around the globe. When Chicago-born, Yemen-based al-Qaeda terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki was killed by a Predator Drone Sept. 20, 2011, it signaled Obama’s commitment to the program. Wanted for years for terrorist attacks on U.S. citizens, al-Awlaki couldn’t escape the long arm of American justice. Killing al-Awlaki raised Constitutional questions on the limits of due process for wayward citizens actively engaged in terrorism against the U.S. U.S. Predator Drone strikes killed al-Qaeda’s No. 2 Abu Yahya al-Libi June 5, 2012, something al-Qaeda’s No. 1 Ayman al-Zawahri confirmed Dec. 12, 2012. When a Predator Drone killed Yemen’s No. 2 Said al-Shihri Sept. 10, 2012, it was no accident that Libya’s al-Qaeda affiliates hit the U.S. consulate in Benghazi Sept. 11.
As the Afghan War finally winds down, U.S. national security is best protected by the Predator Drone Program, not bogging the military down in nation building, wasting billions in tax dollars and loss of U.S. lives. With the Air Force developing more sophisticated UAVs, future terrorists will have less safety and places to hide. Nazir and his comrades were “directly involved in planning and executing cross-border attacks on coalition forces in Afghanistan, as well as providing protection for al-Qaeda fighters in South Waziristan,” said an unnamed U.S. security official. Advertising U.S. Predator Drone strikes reminds terrorists that they can run but cannot hide from U.S. unmanned aerial surveillance and, if needed, Predator Drone attacks. With Bin Laden gone, it’s just a matter of time before American justice reaches the Taliban’s Mullah Mohammed Omar and al-Qaeda’s Ayman al-Zawahri.
About the Author
John M. Curtis writes politically neutral commentary analyzing spin in national and global news. He’s editor of OnlineColumnist.com and author of Dodging the Bullet and Operation Charisma.