Seems we bombed Pakistan yesterday. The strike killed at least 17 villagers in the remote northwestern part of the country along the border with Afghanistan, including a number of children. Just not our target -- Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama Bin Laden's second in command.
Ayman was out for the evening. Well, actually, it seems he'd been out for a while -- or hadn't been there at all -- according to reports from Pakistan.
And there is a legal problem: Pakistan has not granted the United States authorization to cross the border, for bombing or any other combat purpose.
Pakistan has not granted American forces in Afghanistan the right to cross the border, even in pursuit of militants. American-led coalition forces clashing with militants in the mountainous province of Kunar say they have often been frustrated by their foes' use of Pakistan as a sanctuary....AP is reporting that the Pakistanis have filed a formal protest with the US Ambassador today, but that an investigation into what happened is still ongoing. Senior Pakistani officials tell another AP reporter that the CIA was acting on false information, and that thousands of local tribesmen have been protesting the US action.
This is the second report of an American attack on civilians in a Pakistani tribal region in recent days. Eight people, including women and children, were reported killed last Saturday when a helicopter fired at the house of a local cleric in North Waziristan close to the Afghan border.
Pakistan lodged a strong protest with coalition forces on Monday, but said it was still investigating whether the missiles had been fired from Pakistani airspace or from Afghan territory.
More from Newsday, The Age, and Reuters, who is reporting that Zawahiri has been confirmed alive by Al Arabiya television.
Zawahiri is certainly a worthy target for capture, having participated in a substantial amount of the planning for al Qaeda operations with Bin Laden for years. But we've had enormous problems with intelligence in this region of Pakistan, where tribal rivalries and desire for obtaining monetary rewards have played a large part in several retribution tips that have not panned out.
This sort of substantial action, if it turns out to have been based on a false tip, won't make things any better -- and, in fact, may drive more of the tribal elders who have been sitting on the fence into the anti-American camp. Just what we don't need, with so many of our intelligence assets engaged in our Iraqi Adventure at the moment.
Guess we can call this one "Shock and...Oh, Crap."
(Photo by Thir Khan via NYTimes.)
UPDATE: Attaturk has more at Rising Hegemon from the Doughy Pantload. Shorter Jonah: "Oops, we missed. And when we kill innocent civilians, I'll just ignore it." Will morons never cease?