For the sixth time this year -- the fifth time since Barack Obama was sworn in as President -- Hellfire missiles have struck Taliban and al Qaeda targets inside Pakistan's lawless tribal areas, according to press reports in the U.S. and Pakistan. In the latest attack, two missiles slammed into a Taliban compound in South Waziristan in an area controlled by Taliban kingpin Baitullah Mehsud, killing at least seven people. Mehsud, who has close ties to al Qaeda and Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Omar, is a prime suspect in the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
Although Pakistani authorities have protested against the CIA-run air strikes on Pakistani territory, the U.S. has increased the tempo of the attacks on al Qaeda and Taliban targets since mid-2008, and it is clear that President Obama has embraced the tactic. So far, during 2008 and 2009, seven senior al Qaeda leaders are known to have been killed in the strikes.