Pakistan Kills Al Qaeda Leader; U.S. to Keep More Troops in Afghanistan; Uber Driver Allegedly Raped New Delhi Woman
The South Asia Daily Brief for Monday, December 8, 2014.
Pakistani military says it killed al Qaeda leader
On Saturday, the Pakistani military claimed that it had killed Adnan G. el-Shukrijumah, a senior al Qaeda leader who was wanted by the United States on charges of plotting to bomb several Western targets (BBC, NYT). The Pakistani officials said Shukrijumah was killed in a raid in northwestern Pakistan near the Afghan border. The FBI described Shukrijumah, a naturalized American citizen who was born in Saudi Arabia, as the global operations chief of al Qaeda. Bonus Read: “Al Qaeda Commander’s American Life and Death,” Peter Bergen (CNN).
Al Qaeda leader in Pakistan reportedly killed in drone strike
Umar Farooq, a key al Qaeda leader, was reportedly killed in an U.S. drone strike in North Waziristan on Sunday (CNN). Farooq, who was also known as Ustad Farooq, was believed to have been in charge of al Qaeda’s operations in Pakistan and Afghanistan and served as a spokesman for the group. The strike targeted a compound in Datta Khel and killed four other suspected militants. The Pakistani military denied reports of the strike, but later acknowledged that at least four people had been killed in such an incident (NYT). According to data collected by New America, there have been 21 drone strikes in Pakistan this year (New America).
The Rack: “Losing the Media War in Afghanistan,” James Estrin (NYT)
U.S. to keep more troops in Afghanistan
The United States will keep about 1,000 more troops in Afghanistan than planned in early 2015 to fill a temporary NATO troop gap in the new mission, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Saturday (AP, Post). Speaking at a news conference with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Hagel said the original plan to cut U.S. troop levels to 9,800 by the end of 2014 had been abandoned. Instead, Hagel said the United States will keep up to 10,800 troops in the country for the first few months of 2015 before restarting the drawdown. Hagel also said the United States will pursue a “limited” counterterrorism mission in Afghanistan beyond 2014. Bonus read: “Backsliding in Afghanistan,” NYT Editorial Board (NYT).
U.S. releases militant leader from Bagram air base
Pakistani and Western officials told the New York Times on Sunday that the United States flew Latif Mehsud, a senior Pakistani Taliban leader being held at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, back to Pakistan on Friday (NYT). Mehsud was arrested in late 2013 as he traveled to Kabul to meet with Afghan intelligence officials, who were trying to recruit him (Reuters, BBC). When American intelligence agencies discovered the plan, Mehsud was captured in an effort to stabilize the region.
— Emily Schneider
Uber driver allegedly rapes New Delhi woman
An Indian-based driver for Uber, the U.S.-based online taxi service, allegedly raped a 27-year-old woman in New Delhi on Friday (Indian Express, WSJ, BBC). Madhur Verma, a local police official, said: “The driver of the cab, booked through Uber, had not been subjected to a police verification. The company, which did not get his background check done, was asked to join the investigation on Sunday” (Zee News). Uber’s New Delhi office — @Uber_Delhi — tweeted: “We are deeply disturbed by the reported incident. Our thoughts are with the victim. We are actively and fully cooperating with authorities.” The driver was arrested on Sunday, and the New Delhi police banned Uber on Monday as it was “misleading customers” (Economic Times).
The police also reported that the driver sexually assaulted the victim, and when she tried to resist, he told her that he would insert a rod into her genitals, and reminded her of the Dec. 16, 2012 gang-rape, in which a 23-year-old student was brutally gang-raped and tortured by six men on a moving bus in New Delhi. The woman died of her injuries two weeks later, triggering nationwide protests and drawing massive international media coverage.
U.S. condemns terror attacks
The United States condemned the terror attacks in Uri — located in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) — on Friday, where heavily-armed militants snuck into an army camp and killed 11 people, including security personnel (NDTV, DNA, Dawn). All six militants were killed when the soldiers at the camp returned fire. The U.S. State Department issued a statement saying: “The United States remains firmly committed to working in close partnership with India to defeat terrorism in all its forms” (NDTV). When asked whether Pakistan was involved in the terror attack, Marie Harf, a U.S. State Department spokesperson, said: “I wouldn’t assume anything” (Nation).
In response to the terror attacks, Indian Lt. Gen. Subrata Saha said: “The Pakistan link to the Uri terror attack was unambiguous and clear… The pictures of food, weapons, even antiseptic creams found on the slain terrorists were enough evidence to see the involvement of Pakistan in these attacks” (Indian Express). This week, the third of the five-phase state elections will be held in J&K. Ahead of the state elections, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave two campaign speeches in the state on Monday (Indian Express, Livemint). He condemned the militant attack on Friday, and said: “Our soldiers have sacrificed their lives to safeguard democracy… Now you must vote to safeguard their sacrifices” (NDTV). Modi also congratulated Kashmiris for voting in the first two phases of the election, and thanked them for choosing the ballot over AK-47 bullets.
India’s communication satellite launched successfully
The Indian Space Research Organization announced that the Ariane-5 launch vehicle VA221 of Arianespace — an European commercial launch service provider — successfully launched India’s communication satellite, GSAT-16, from Kourou, French Guiana on Sunday (The Hindu, Hindustan Times, Economic Times). GSAT-16 is a multi-application telecommunications satellite and will cover the entire Indian sub-continent. Modi — @narendramodi — tweeted: “Kudos to our scientists for the successful launch of GSAT-16. The communication satellite will become a major asset for our space programme.”
— Neeli Shah
Edited by Peter Bergen