Sources: Pakistani Taliban leader killed in drone strike
November 1st, 2013
07:31 PM ET

Sources: Pakistani Taliban leader killed in drone strike

Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud - once charged by the United States for his alleged involvement in a deadly 2009 attack on a U.S. military base in Afghanistan - was killed in a drone strike in northwestern Pakistan on Friday, senior U.S. and Pakistani officials told CNN.

Three other people were killed in the strike, Pakistani intelligence sources and tribal officials said, describing the incident as a suspected U.S. drone strike in a remote area of Pakistan's Waziristan region, a Taliban stronghold bordering Afghanistan.

One missile hit a compound, and another struck a car nearby, the Pakistani sources said.

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Filed under: drones • Pakistan • Taliban
Significant lapses led to attack on military base in Afghanistan, report finds
Image from video posted online by a group associated with the Afghanistan Tailban purporting to show the September 2012 attack on Camp Bastion.
October 2nd, 2013
03:43 PM ET

Significant lapses led to attack on military base in Afghanistan, report finds

By Jamie Crawford

The top U.S. commanders of a coalition base in southern Afghanistan "failed to take adequate force protection" measures prior to a September 2012 attack by the Taliban that led to the deaths of two Marines and the destruction of military aircraft, according to a report on the incident.

Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos fired the two senior commanders of the base at the time, Maj. Gen. Charles Gurganus and Maj. Gen. Gregg Sturdevant, essentially forcing them into retirement.

The investigation was directed by Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, who leads Central Command, to determine any potential accountability for the attack.

Army Lt. Gen. William B. Garrett III was the investigating officer for the report released Wednesday and his deputy was Marine Maj. Gen. Thomas M. Murray.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Marines • Military • Taliban • US Central Command
July 31st, 2013
03:24 PM ET

Opinion: Jihadists focus on prison breaks

By Peter Bergen and Bailey Cahall

In an attack orchestrated by a Pakistani Taliban commander, around 250 prisoners, most of them militants, were freed this week at the central prison in Dera Ismail Khan in northwestern Pakistan.

The commander, Ahmed Rashid, had been freed a year earlier, this time at the central jail in Bannu, where 150 Taliban fighters stormed the facility and released nearly 400 prisoners - Pakistan's largest jailbreak.

Both prison breaks happened in the stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which borders North and South Waziristan, and both were conducted with a high degree of sophistication.
A police officer is hospitalized after being hurt in this week\'s deadly Taliban attack on a Pakistani prison.

A police officer is hospitalized after being hurt in this week's deadly Taliban attack on a Pakistani prison.

This week's attack unfolded in multiple stages, beginning with cutting the prison's electricity, detonating bombs that had been planted around the facility to breach its external wall, and ambushing the security forces that rushed to the scene.

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Filed under: Taliban
FIRST ON CNN: Top Marine’s alleged comments in Taliban desecration case draw scrutiny
An image captured on You Tube shows what appear to be U.S. Marines urinating on bodies of dead Taliban.
July 25th, 2013
02:43 PM ET

FIRST ON CNN: Top Marine’s alleged comments in Taliban desecration case draw scrutiny

By Barbara Starr

A senior Marine general said in an extraordinary sworn statement obtained by CNN that the head of the corps wanted several Marines kicked out of the service for their alleged roles in urinating on Taliban corpses - even before any charges were brought.

Lt. General Thomas Waldhauser told military authorities in the sworn statement on Tuesday that he had a private meeting in February 2012 with Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos, who had just named him to lead the investigation and possible prosecution.

"I do not remember the exact words or sequence of what was said, but the CMC did make a comment to the effect that the Marines involved needed to be 'crushed,'" Waldhauser said, adding that the "CMC went on to say he wanted these Marines to be discharged from the Marine Corps when this was all over."

Waldhauser's statement was made as part of the record for upcoming court martial proceedings against two Marines involved in the case.


June 20th, 2013
08:40 PM ET

Could Taliban prisoner exchange free captured U.S. soldier?

By Melissa Gray

When U.S. negotiators raise the issue of captured U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl with the Taliban in the coming days, it won't be the first time. The two sides held meetings in 2011 and 2012 that included the topic of Bergdahl's release, with sporadic discussions since then.

The first series of talks took place in 2011 with the State Department's top representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. He met Taliban representatives again the next year. An American proposal for Bergdahl's release was a topic each time, U.S. officials told CNN in May 2012.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Military • Taliban
June 20th, 2013
01:20 AM ET

Trust low, but U.S. says talks with Taliban will go on

By CNN Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jill Dougherty

The U.S. still anticipates that talks with the Taliban will take place “in the next few days” despite the announcement by Afghan President Hamid Karzai that he was backing out of security talks with both sides, a senior administration official said Wednesday.

Karzai, upset about how the Taliban portrayed themselves in opening their Doha, Qatar office, said that he was pulling out of the peace talks with the Taliban and canceling security talks with the United States.

U.S. officials say the decision by the Taliban to call themselves the “Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan” was a violation of the explicit guidelines the Qataris set for the office. The Taliban, they say, used it as a kind of slogan implying that it represented a sovereign entity in opposition to the Afghan government. Ground rules of the Doha meetings were worked out almost a year ago and the Taliban were supposed to limit themselves to simply “The Political Office of the Afghan Taliban.” Instead, they emblazoned the “emirates” name on a banner, on their office door, and used it in their public announcements.

The move caught the United States and Qataris by surprise. The Qatari government took down the sign Wednesday, the State Department says, and took steps to ensure that the political office was respecting the ground rules.


Captured U.S. soldier's letter revives family's hopes
June 6th, 2013
03:58 AM ET

Captured U.S. soldier's letter revives family's hopes

By Cristy Lenz

(CNN) - The family of Bowe Bergdahl, a U.S. soldier captured by the Taliban in 2009, received a letter from him recently - reviving their hopes that the 27-year-old army sergeant is still alive.

Bergdahl's father mentioned receiving the letter in an e-mail exchange with Dwight Murphy, the spokesman for the local POW/MIA group in Boise Valley, Idaho.

"We have received a letter from Bowe through the Red Cross!" the father says in the exchange. "He was scripted and redacted but he was no doubt alive and his faculties fully functioning as of two months ago."

He did not say when he got the letter, but Murphy copied and pasted the exchange with the father on his Facebook page after receiving his permission to do so.

The father's letter goes on say, "They are being very careful with him. He is still highly valued at high levels.

"Guantanamo, drones and politics in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Washington are still the big issues."

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Taliban
February 14th, 2013
06:34 PM ET

Fewer Afghan troops could yield more Taliban violence, Senate panel told

By Mike Mount

Reducing the number of Afghan security forces could lead to an increase in Taliban violence inside that country as U.S. forces prepare to leave by the end of 2014, Army Gen. Lloyd Austin said Thursday.

Austin was testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee during a hearing to confirm him as the next top U.S. commander to oversee military operations in the Middle East. Austin said keeping a larger Afghan force would allow the Afghan government to mature under a bigger security umbrella.

Currently, the U.S.-led NATO operation has plans to reduce the number of Afghan forces from about 352,000 to around 230,000 after U.S. troops leave in 2014.

Afghan security forces were beefed up to improve security in tandem with the surge of U.S. troops in 2009. The larger number of Afghan troops would be too expensive to maintain and would eventually have to be reduced as security improved around the country, according to the NATO plan.

Prince Harry on Afghan mission: 'Take a life to save a life'
Harry inspects an Apache helicopter on October 30, 2012.
January 22nd, 2013
06:22 AM ET

Prince Harry on Afghan mission: 'Take a life to save a life'

By Max Foster and Peter Wilkinson

Britain's Prince Harry has acknowledged that he killed Taliban insurgents on his latest tour of duty in Afghanistan as a crew member of an Apache attack helicopter.

Harry has been serving for four months as a co-pilot gunner (CPG) in southern Helmand province - considered a Taliban heartland - and flew on scores of missions with the trigger to rockets, missiles and a 30mm cannon at his fingertips.

January 3rd, 2013
03:24 AM ET

Pakistani officials: Suspected U.S. drone strikes kill 15, including a Taliban leader

By Shaan Khan

Two suspected U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan's volatile tribal region left 15 people dead on Thursday, Pakistani intelligence officials said.

Among the 11 killed in one strike in the province of South Waziristan was a Taliban commander named Mullah Nazir, also known as Maulvi Nazir Wazir, the officials said.

The drone fired two missiles in the Sarkanda area of Birmil, killing Nazir, the officials said.

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Filed under: drones • Pakistan • Taliban
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