This is from the NY Times.
Gilani may be able to neglect to mention the missile strike on Pakistani soil but it will be noticed in Pakistan as I note in another post. This is the second time that Midhat Umar has been reported killed so we still will need to wait to have the kill confirmed. Apparently seven people were killed including the head of a school. That the U.S. should carried out this attack just hours before Bush met with Gilani is meant to send a message to Pakistan. With other attacks inside Pakistan and with the new nuclear deal with India, the U.S. can expect that whatever Pakistan may say they will probably work for some type of deal with the Taliban and even try to undermine the Karzai government and also the influence of India in Afghanistan.
July 29, 2008
Bush Praises Pakistan Just Hours After U.S. Strike
By STEVEN LEE MYERS
WASHINGTON — President Bush on Monday praised Pakistan’s commitment to fighting extremists along its deteriorating border with Afghanistan, only hours after an American missile strike destroyed what American and Pakistani officials described as a militant outpost in the region, killing at least six fighters.
Mr. Bush, meeting with Pakistan’s prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, at the White House, sought to minimize growing concerns that Pakistan’s willingness to fight extremists was waning, allowing the Taliban and Al Qaeda to regroup inside Pakistan and plan new attacks there and beyond.
Senior American officials, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice just three days ago, publicly scolded Pakistan for not doing more to root out safe havens like the one bombed on Monday in Azam Warsak, a village in South Waziristan near the Afghan border.
Among those believed to have been killed in the missile attack, evidently carried out by a remotely piloted aircraft operated by the Central Intelligence Agency, was an Egyptian identified as a senior Qaeda trainer and weapons expert, according to residents and officials in the area, as well as American officials. Neither the operative’s identity nor that of the others has been confirmed.
The officials spoke anonymously because of the political and diplomatic sensitivities of attacking targets in Pakistan.
The Egyptian operative, Midhat Mursi al-Sayid Umar, also known as Abu Khabab al-Masri, appears on the State Department’s list of 37 most-wanted terrorists, with a reward of $5 million for his capture. He is said to be the man who designed the explosives that Richard C. Reid, the so-called shoe bomber, hid in his sneakers during a failed attempt to blow up an airliner on a flight from Paris to Miami in 2001.
He was falsely reported to have been killed in a similar attack in January 2006 in news accounts that attributed the claim to Pakistani officials. The timing of Monday’s strike, the latest in a series by remotely piloted American aircraft inside Pakistan, coincided with the first official visit by Mr. Gilani to the United States.
The meetings on Monday carefully sidestepped the political and diplomatic sensitivities that have strained relations ever since political opponents of the country’s authoritarian president, Pervez Musharraf, won elections this year and formed a governing coalition lead by Mr. Gilani.
Neither Mr. Bush nor Mr. Gilani discussed the American strike inside Pakistan, nor recent episodes like the American bombing of a border post in June that killed 11 Pakistani soldiers and inflamed anti-American sentiment. The two leaders appeared eager to show that they were working together closely and respectfully.
With Mr. Gilani by his side on the South Lawn, Mr. Bush praised Pakistan as “a strong ally and a vibrant democracy” and expressed appreciation for “the prime minister’s strong words against the extremists and terrorists.”
“We talked about the need for us to make sure that the Afghan border is secure, as best as possible,” Mr. Bush said before the leaders continued their discussions. “Pakistan has made a very strong commitment to that.”
In his brief remarks and in a joint statement later, Mr. Bush also expressed respect for Pakistan’s sovereignty.
Mr. Gilani, himself seeking to demonstrate his government’s willingness to fight extremism, noted that his party’s leader, Benazir Bhutto, died in an attack by extremists in December.
“This is our own war,” he said, speaking in English. “This is a war which is against Pakistan. And we’ll fight for our own past. And that is because I have lost my own leader, Benazir Bhutto, because of the militants.”
Mr. Bush also announced that the United States would provide $115 million in food aid, including $42 million in the next nine months, to help Pakistan deal with rising food prices, and pledged to support Congressional efforts to expand American aid to areas beyond security and military affairs, including education, energy and agriculture.
The focus of their meetings remained terrorism, though. Asked about tensions in the relationship, the White House press secretary, Dana M. Perino, acknowledged what she described as “the complex issues on the border” between Pakistan and Afghanistan but suggested that differences were overblown.
“It’s tense in that we are working together to try to fight counterterrorism,” she said, “but I think that we are much more on the same page than some people would like to paint.”
In Pakistan, officials and a resident with ties to the Taliban in South Waziristan said Monday’s strike occurred before dawn. At least two missiles hit a compound that had been used as a school, the officials said.
The local resident, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said there had been a meeting at the compound on Sunday, but that many of the attendees had left. A local militant commander, Maulavi Nazir, said the strike left seven people dead, including the head of the school. He complained of frequent American strikes in Pakistan and violations of its airspace.
In Washington, officials were still awaiting confirmation that Mr. Midhat, the Qaeda operative, was among those killed, an American official said.
If so, the official said, it would deal Al Qaeda a significant blow.
“This guy is one of their absolute key specialists in poisons and explosives,” the official said. “He was also a key trainer of people involved in operations inside and outside the tribal areas.”
Mr. Midhat helped Al Qaeda and Taliban plotters tailor bombs or poisons for specific terrorist missions, according to the official and the State Department’s rewards list..
“It doesn’t mean they can’t find other trainers,” the official said, “but they will have lost their most seasoned trainer.”
Ismail Khan contributed reporting from Peshawar, Pakistan, Pir Zubair Shah from Islamabad, and Eric Schmitt from Washington.