Report: Al Qaeda WMD expert Abu Khabab thought killed in South Waziristan strike


Abu-Khabab.jpg

Abu Khabab, via the US Rewards for Justice website.

A Pakistani intelligence official claimed al Qaeda weapons expert Midhat Mursi al Sayyid Umar, better known as Abu Khabab, was killed in this morning's airstrike in South Waziristan.

"We believe he was killed in this strike," a senior intelligence official told AFP on condition of anonymity. "It was his hide-out and information that has been shared with us says he was targeted in this strike."

Six Pakistanis, including three foreigner terrorists, were reported killed in the airstrike, which hit either a madrassa or a home next to a mosque.

Abu Khabab and four other senior al Qaeda commanders were reported to have been killed in an airstrike in the town of Damadola in the Bajaur tribal agency in January 2006. The US military believed the safe house in Bajaur, which was run by Taliban chieftain Faqir Mohammed, was sheltering Ayman al Zawahiri, al Qaeda's second in command. Khabab and the other commanders were later found to be still alive.

The US Rewards for Justice Program has a $5 million bounty out for the capture of Khabab.

Khabab has a long history of working with al Qaeda's secretive weapons of mass destruction program, which is known as al Zabadi, or "curdled milk."

Khabab "operated a terrorist training camp at Derunta, Afghanistan where he provided hundreds of Mujahidin with hands-on training in the use of poisons and explosives," the Rewards for Justice Website states. "Since 1999, he has distributed training manuals that contain instructions for making chemical and biological weapons. Some of these training manuals were recovered by U.S. forces in Afghanistan."

Dan Darling reported on Khabab's history with the Egyptian military and al Qaeda for The Long War Journal in September 2005.

A former scientist in the Egyptian chemical weapons program, Khabab, turned against the government of Anwar Sadat. Khabab joined Ayman al Zawahiri's Egyptian Islamic Jihad, where he served as an explosives expert and poison trainer for the group.

After Egyptian Islamic Jihad merged with al Qaeda, he became the head of Project al Zabadi. The program largely focused on chemical and biological weapons, and devices to disperse the agents. Evidence of Project al Zabadi's operations has turned up throughout Afghanistan, Iraq, the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe.


For more information on Abu Khabab and al Qaeda's weapons of mass destruction program, see:

Abu Khabab and Project al Zabadi - The Long War Journal
Al Qaeda's Mad Scientist - The Weekly Standard



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READER COMMENTS: "Report: Al Qaeda WMD expert Abu Khabab thought killed in South Waziristan strike"

Posted by don juice at July 28, 2008 1:04 PM ET:

if its true this is good but its still not better like capturing him or hitting osama or his right hand man

Posted by David M at July 28, 2008 3:20 PM ET:

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 07/28/2008 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

Posted by Liberterian at July 28, 2008 4:00 PM ET:

I suggest that it is better to eliminate a hundred middle managers than 5 top managers; top management issues instructions but middle management gets things done; strategy without execution is just OBL muttering in a cave

Posted by JusCruzn at July 28, 2008 4:22 PM ET:

Hopefully this will turn out to be true. Taking this guy out can only result in positive things like keeping WMD's out of the hirabi's hands. Don't bother with trying to capture any of them. That will just turn into more of a spectacle like what is going on right now in Gitmo. Just eliminate them all by any and every means possible. They are like cockroaches, when you shine freedom's light on them they run. Extermine them as you would the roaches. GOOD WORK TROOPS KEEP KILLING HIRABI'S !!!

Posted by Raj Kumar at July 29, 2008 4:19 AM ET:

Pakistani,

And how long before the ISI decides to put the pieces back together mate!!!

Pakistan needs to be treated at par with Zimbabwe and put into a deep quarantine by the world, till it decides to stop using Islamic terror as a state policy.

I don't see any other viable policy if we want to prevent a mushroom clound over a western city.

Posted by Neo at July 29, 2008 10:53 AM ET:

Raj Kumar,

"Pakistan needs to be treated at par with Zimbabwe and put into a deep quarantine by the world, till it decides to stop using Islamic terror as a state policy."

Political isolation would only drive the rest of Pakistan toward the terrorists. This is the worst thing that could be done at this point. The Pakistani population and political system is badly fractured. Open political support for the Taliban is mostly done by an activist minority within the government and population. The rest of the population is becoming increasingly irritated about the constant violence.

Eventually, the Pakistani population will have to face the inevitable, and go against these groups or join their cause. I'm afraid the old relationship where the Pakistani government supported and used these groups and used them as an instrument of policy is gone. Pakistan's little Frankenstein's have turned on their master. In the end, the master will have only one choice, kill or be devoured by the Islamist monster.

If the political forces that are most sympathetic to the Islamist cause come into power in Pakistan, than the rest of the world is in for a dangerous time. In the mean time, lets not force into being exactly the political situation we most fear. That being said, we are "at the eleventh hour" here, and things aren't looking so good.

Posted by Liberterian at July 29, 2008 11:16 AM ET:

Pakistan cannot be isolated for 3 good reasons :
1. It would hurt most the very people who are the last line of defense: the english speaking professional, commercial and academic classes and the mililtary officers who detest the Islamic sadists
2. China will not allow it
3. NATO does not a good alternative supply route.

In time, there may be a Pakistani awakening or a Pakistani civil war that leads to the purging of the Islamic sadists from the culture and land;We have not been able to force the pace of events in Iran; why do we think we can do it in Pakistan? I am afraid that resolute and persistent containment is the only good option.
Consider that India has shown no more courage than Pakistan even though India is far less culturally and socially hospitable to these terrorists than Pakistan

Posted by Raj Kumar at July 29, 2008 11:22 AM ET:

Neo,

The problem you have is that the state instruments which most states use in relationship with each other have ceased to work in the case of Pakistan. If you think that the average Pakistani will help you in trying to bring this monster under control then good luck to you.

The ruling elite have messed things up to such an extent that we have British/American/NATO soilder's being killed by the Pakistani trained/equipped/financed forces on Pakistan's western border and after the last few days we have Indian solider's being killed by the by the Pakistani trained/equipped/financed forces on Pakistan's eastern border.

Now what is it that we should do!!!

Do we just sit on our behind or try and tame this monster?

I was once a solider of my country and I was taught to kill the enemies of my Queen & country and right now from were I sit Pakistan is begining to look like a enemy.

Right now I am also scared because according to the Australian Newspapers (The Australian, I believe) which carried a report that says that some nuclear weapons were being stored in the NWFP/FATA area!!!! and guess what the talibunnies are in this exact area.

Posted by Marlin at July 29, 2008 12:16 PM ET:

Pakistani intelligence officials are now confirming that Abu Khabab al-Masri was killed.

Intelligence officials investigating the early Monday missile attack confirmed that Midhat Mursi al-Sayid Umar, also known as Abu Khabab al-Masri was one of six men killed and his remains had been positively identified.

"We now have a positive ID on the body. I can confirm to you that Al-Masri has been killed," a Pakistani intelligence official told CBS News on the condition of anonymity. Earlier reports claimed that the six men killed included three Arabs, while the other three were believed to be Afghans or Pakistanis.

However, the intelligence official who spoke to CBS Tuesday said all six men were Arabs. Those killed also included Sheikh Ibrahim, a mid ranking al Qaeda operative believed to be either Egyptian or Jordanian. The other four victims were described as ordinary foot soldiers.

CBS News: Officials: Al Qaeda's Mad Scientist Killed

Posted by Bill Roggio at July 29, 2008 12:39 PM ET:

Until the US confirms this, it is as good as rumor. The Pakistanis confirmed Khabab's death in 2006 too. Unless he's a vampire.....

Posted by Bill at July 29, 2008 4:34 PM ET:

I'm inclined to think this was a CIA rather than JFC-A operation. Besides the fact that the military have denied any knowledge of it, it appears that nearly all of the special operators inside N Waz are from the Agency.

OTOH, I'm not aware that CIA operates any UAVs other than the Predator, and i'm not sure a Hellfire with its rather small 20-lb warhead could have done this. Unless it really pinpointed a window into a small masonry room and the blast was contained.

Posted by Neo at July 29, 2008 9:59 PM ET:

"I was once a solider of my country and I was taught to kill the enemies of my Queen & country and right now from were I sit Pakistan is begining to look like a enemy."

That may yet come. I don't deny it.

Never underestimate the virtue of muddling your way through a real mess. As you indicate, the Pakistani political system is largely non-functional or minimally functional, but it's better to crawl along when the alternatives are worse.. The elites have long ago spent their political capital, but no one is really stepping into the void. Even the Taliban doesn't seem to really be in the drivers seat either.

It's not like the sides aren't doing anything either, although it may often seem that way. The current military/political situation is a bit like a wrestling match where the sides try to gain leverage on each other and block off options for the opposing side. A quick move at the right point may put someone on top or may land him on his backside. It also could go on for some time with all sides spending themselves.

Posted by jeandon at July 30, 2008 5:07 AM ET:

Tribal areas cannot sanely be regarded as "sovereign" Pak, in fact they are not, unfortunately. We should reagard and treat them as we did Taliban ruled Afghanistan, and introduce NATO sovereignity joining with a new version of the Northern Alliance. We should encourage an Indian-Afghan alliance against the Taliban in the Tribal Areas. Karzai should like that. When these areas are pacified, with or without the help of the Paks, the Afghans and Paks can negotiate their status.

Posted by Marlin at August 3, 2008 9:21 AM ET:

al-Qaeda has confirmed Abu Khabab al-Masri's death.

Al Qaeda confirmed on Sunday that Abu Khabab al-Masri, a chemical and biological weapons expert, was killed with three other militants in a suspected U.S. air strike in Pakistan's border region last week.

[...]

An al Qaeda statement posted on Islamist websites said Masri, referred to as the "expert", had left behind him a generation of students who would avenge his killing.

The statement, signed by al Qaeda's leader in Afghanistan, Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, named three other militants killed alongside Masri on July 28. It said some of their children also died.

Reuters: Al Qaeda confirms death of top bomb maker Masri