Publication: Terrorism Focus Volume: 5 Issue: 13


In a striking display of the usefulness of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in counter-insurgent warfare, Turkey’s military followed up the discovery of a group of PKK guerrillas in the southeastern province of Sirnak with a devastating attack that killed at least 15 PKK fighters (Milliyet, March 30). A March 28 flight by an Israeli-made Heron drone discovered the insurgents in the Bestler-Dereler region and sent photographs and coordinates to the General Staff Command-Control Center. Within minutes a Special Forces team from the Turkish Gendarmerie—a paramilitary responsible for security in rural regions—was dispatched in four Sikorsky helicopters, followed by four U.S.-built Cobra and Super Cobra attack helicopters (Hurriyet, March 29). The PKK unit came under heavy fire from the helicopters as well as mortar and sniper fire from the Gendarmerie. Village Guards with special knowledge of the local terrain moved up to close off escape routes. The operation demonstrated that the PKK can no longer assume they are safe in the difficult mountainous country that once provided near-immunity from attacks by Turkish forces.

The 14-meter-long leased Herons operate out of Batman air force base and are operated by contractors provided by the Israeli manufacturers, Israeli Aerospace Industries and Elbit Systems (Turkish Daily News, December 27, 2007). The arrangement is temporary until the manufacturers fulfill a delayed commitment to supply 20 to 30 Heron drones to the Turkish Armed Forces this spring. Turkey is also developing its own UAVs, but deployment is believed to still be two to three years away.


Dispelling rumors of his death, veteran jihadi and Taliban commander Jalaluddin Haqqani has broken his recent silence to vow, “With the help of God, who sends his angels to help us, we will defeat [George] Bush, and we will continue our jihad until the Day of Resurrection” (al-Jazeera TV, March 22). Appearing in a video proclaiming the “success” of yet another suicide bomber—a tactic introduced to Afghanistan by Haqqani—the leader of the “Haqqani Network” looked ill but defiant (for the Haqqani Network, see Terrorism Monitor, March 24).

Haqqani and his sons Sirajuddin and Badrudin operate mainly in Afghanistan’s Khost Province, which borders on Pakistan’s North Waziristan Tribal Agency, where Jalaluddin has a residence and madrasah—now closed—in Miran Shah (Anis [Kabul], March 23). Haqqani emerged as one of the most renowned mujahideen leaders of the anti-Soviet jihad of the 1980s, establishing close ties to the CIA, Saudi intelligence, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and bin Laden’s network of Arab fighters (he is fluent in Arabic). Though he is regarded as one of the most independent-minded of the jihad leaders in Afghanistan, Jalaluddin has not wavered from his allegiance to Taliban leader Mullah Omar since joining the Taliban movement, even turning down an offer to assume the prime minister’s post in the Karzai government (Asia Times, May 5, 2004). The renewed commitment of this skilled commander to the anti-American jihad provides a powerful boost to the Taliban leadership as it prepares to launch its spring offensive.