Al Qaeda's operations chief in Pakistan killed in New Year's strike


Osama al Kini, also known as Fahid Mohammed Ally Msalam.

The US killed al Qaeda's chief of operations in the New Year's Day missile strike in Pakistan's Taliban-controlled tribal agency of South Waziristan, according to a report.

The Jan. 1 attack in the town of Karikot in South Waziristan killed Osama al Kini and his senior aide Sheikh Ahmed Salim Swedan, intelligence officials told The Washington Post. Two other unnamed operatives were also killed in the airstrike.

Osama al Kini is an alias for Fahid Mohammed Ally Msalam, a Kenyan national and a senior al Qaeda commander who was wanted for his role as a planner of the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya. The twin bombings killed 224 civilians and wounded more than 5,000 others. The Rewards for Justice Web site posted a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture.

The US also had offered $5 million for information leading to the capture of Swedan, who also was involved in the 1998 embassy bombings. Al Kini and Swedan, along with senior al Qaeda leaders such as Osama bin Laden, Ayman al Zawahiri, and Saif al Adel, were indicted in a US federal court on charges of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and attacks on a US facility.

swedan2.jpg

Sheikh Ahmed Salim Swedan.

After the Sept. 11 attacks on the US, al Kini served as al Qaeda's leader in the restive Afghan province of Zabul. He "later shifted between Afghanistan, Pakistan and East Africa, planning suicide missions, training operatives and raising money," The Washington Post reported, and was appointed as al Qaeda's operational commander in Pakistan in 2007.

He is thought to have been behind more than seven suicide attacks inside Pakistan, including the assassination attempt on Benazir Bhutto on her return to Pakistan in October 2007 and the September 2008 bombing at the Marriott hotel in Islamabad. The Marriott suicide attack killed more than 50 Pakistanis and foreigners, wounded more than 270, and gutted the popular hotel.

Qari Saifullah Akhtar, the leader of the Harakat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, and Qari Mohammad Zafar, a leader of the Laskhar-e-Jhangvi, are also thought to have been behind the Marriott attack.

Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other Pakistani terror groups have used the Laskhar-e-Jhangvi to execute operations inside Pakistan for years, a senior US intelligence official told The Long War Journal in September 2008. "Harakat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, Laskhar-e-Jhangvi, and other Pakistani terror groups merged with al Qaeda years ago," the official said.

US strikes in Pakistan aimed at al Qaeda's external operations network

The Jan. 1 airstrike was followed up by a second strike in South Waziristan on the very next day. Four Taliban and al Qaeda operatives are thought to have been killed, but their identities are currently unknown. Both strikes took place in the tribal areas run by Mullah Nazir, who has sheltered senior al Qaeda leaders.

There were 36 recorded cross-border attacks and attempts in Pakistan during 2008, according to numbers compiled by The Long War Journal. Twenty-nine of these attacks took place after Aug. 31. There were only 10 recorded strikes in 2006 and 2007 combined.

The US campaign in Pakistan is aimed at disrupting al Qaeda's ability to attack the West. US intelligence believes the next attack launched against the West will originate from Pakistan's tribal areas, where al Qaeda operates 157 known training camps. Al Qaeda has been training terrorists holding Western passports to conduct attacks, US intelligence officials have told The Long War Journal.

The US strikes inside Pakistan's tribal areas killed five senior al Qaeda leaders during 2008. All of the leaders were involved in supporting al Qaeda's external operations directed at the West. Abu Laith al Libi, a senior military commander in Afghanistan, was killed in a strike in North Waziristan in January. Abu Sulayman Jazairi, al Qaeda's external operations chief, was killed in a strike in Bajaur in March. Abu Khabab al Masri, al Qaeda's weapons of mass destruction chief, and several senior members of his staff were killed in a strike in South Waziristan in July. Khalid Habib, the leader of al Qaeda's paramilitary forces in the tribal areas, was killed in North Waziristan in October. Abu Jihad al Masri, the leader of the Egyptian Islamic Group and member of al Qaeda's top council, was also killed in North Waziristan in October.



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READER COMMENTS: "Al Qaeda's operations chief in Pakistan killed in New Year's strike"

Posted by Meremortal at January 8, 2009 9:47 PM ET:

Great news. I hope this tempo continues after Jan 20. We don't know where the intel is coming from, but things have certainly improved on that front. The quality of replacements must be degrading over time, and the newbies must be nervous too.

Posted by AAndrew at January 8, 2009 10:14 PM ET:

Fantastic news and fantastic work by the men and women who made this possible. Whatever methods we've got for getting this intel on HVT locations, it seems to be working.

The key to winning this war is to eliminate HVTs. Each time someone is promoted to a role previoulsy made vacant by a Hellfire, welcome the recently promoted thug with another Hellfire.

Keep up the good work!

Andrew

Posted by Gringo at January 8, 2009 11:55 PM ET:

How many times have we heard that AQ honcho XYZ has been killed in a missile strike in Pakistan, only to find out later that XYZ is alive and well?

Posted by IK at January 9, 2009 1:08 AM ET:

Not that many times, if it's from US sources. It's when some Paki tells you some bigwhig bought the farm that the info is suspect, if not the usual Paki lie.

Posted by IK at January 9, 2009 1:10 AM ET:

PS - How long do you think until Sweden demands an inquest into the loss of life of their fine upstanding passsport holder.

4 3 2 1 ...

Posted by Paul at January 9, 2009 1:21 AM ET:

As our intelligence gathering in this area has matured and seems to be pretty effective, I wonder if we're still as confident OBL resides there?

Posted by Jerjes Talpur at January 9, 2009 5:03 AM ET:

We are providing information to the US drones, this is the sucession of Pakistan's intelligence services.

GOD BLESS PAKISTAN.

We are sure by this one day we all peace loving nations gonna succeed in war on terror.

After sweeping Pakistan we should move forward for the rest garbage of terrorism in india.

After suceession in FATA , we must go into kashmir and see, what their local people wants, how we can solve their problems, not only that, we must ask Sirilankan government to provide them support for finishing Indian-Made Tamil tigers, not only that we must also move to bangladesh to see whats wrong there.

This war is not only ENDS in pakistan, Terrorism and extremism is present in whole region, and indian militants are also there to be delt.

Have a look at upcoming mission !!!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insurgent_groups_in_Northeast_India

Posted by JusCruzn at January 9, 2009 6:31 AM ET:

I just love those predators/reapers. Nothing like killing hirabi's by remote control. GOOD WORK TROOPS KEEP KILLING HIRABI'S!!!

Posted by Edward at January 9, 2009 7:45 AM ET:

How much of a difference maker is this, really? Of course I'm not saying that it's not a big coup for the U.S. (a Predator got the "S-3 equivalent" for Pakistan?? Wow!), but I'm not sure how much of a change to reasonably expect in the region, based on the immediate effects of this strike short-term or long-term.

Posted by Bill Roggio at January 9, 2009 8:50 AM ET:

IK is correct, if the info comes from the US there is a high degree of certainty the HVTs are killed.

Edward,

I'd say at the very least it is justice for those killed, wounded, and maimed in East Africa in 1998. But more importantly, disrupting al Qaeda's external operations branch is crucial to preventing the next big attack in the West, India, Southeast Asia. These were two experienced leaders. No doubt there are plenty more, but you can't disrupt the network by sitting on your hands.

Posted by Libertyship46 at January 9, 2009 9:04 AM ET:

I'm just sorry we could only kill these guys once. I am worried, though, if we will continue to get good intel on people like this if there is a war between India and Pakistan. Also, if there is a war between those two countries, who's side will America be on and how does that effect our hunt for terrorists inside Pakistan? Does anybody know if Obama and his foreign policy team is even thinking about this?

Posted by jayc at January 9, 2009 11:09 AM ET:

I remember the old joke when I was in the service that went like this, "How do you clear out an Iraqi bingo parlor? Holler B52!" The Palestinians learned the hard way to look out their rear view mirror, and when that Apache popped up out of nowhere, they had a nanno second to deass their car before the Hellfire sent them on to a better life.
Now it's Osama and Co's turn. You know, it's hard to be on the offensive when you are either running for your life, or are hunkering down like the dog that you are.
Bravo Zulu to the trigger puller on this one. Keep up the great reporting, Bill. You made my day.

Posted by Neo at January 9, 2009 11:39 AM ET:

AQ knows the US is getting a lot of intelligence from Pakistani sources.

I would expect a large reprisal attack for this within Pakistan. International hotel's and compounds for pakistani military personnel seem to be popular targets.

Posted by KnightHawk at January 9, 2009 11:39 AM ET:

Awesome way to kick off the new year!

Posted by Edward at January 9, 2009 5:49 PM ET:

Thank you for clarifying that the situation goes beyond the regional, Bill. I'm not sure why, but I had this strange mental image of as-Sahab "doing a Baitullah" and declaring that AQ would back Pakistan in a war with India...

Posted by Jerjes Talpur at January 10, 2009 5:16 AM ET:

It is quite sure Pakistan and America used to need these groups, in the cold-war, and they thought they will help them more, but dear now Pakistan is nuclear state, we have better way of defense we dont need these terrorists anymore, thats why we are doing operation against them.

AQ and Taliban, is useless for pakistan, we never used them in any sense but sure United state used them in cold war, and left them at pakistani soil.

We have not created them this whole world knows who have created them, we are suffering and we are fighting, and it is united states duty to give full support to pakistan, for clearing these terrorists.


Posted by flyonthewall at January 10, 2009 6:26 AM ET:

Jerges,
If Pakistan's commitment against terrorists is authentic, why are the Mumbai Murderers and their mentors not recognized as such and brought to justice? House arrest?????? Denial???I sure would LOVE to embrace your view, but reality?

Posted by Tim Sumner at January 10, 2009 8:29 AM ET:

Yes, we funded a portion of the opposition to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan yet the lion's share was paid for by wealthy Arab nations and none of the foreign jihadist recruiting was done by us. Once the Soviets were gone, the jihadis should have all gone home and stayed out. Pakistan should have left Afghanistan to its own devices. The Taliban was solely created by Pakistan, the U.S. had nothing to do with it.

Duty is a two-way street, Jerjes. You imply that Pakistan is now serious about demilitarizing the Taliban, closing its terroritory as a base for the jihad being waged against Afghanistan and India, and closing the terrorist camps; it is a poor act.

If Pakistan wants peace, it better do everything it is capabale of about its unpeaceful citizens and their likewise murderous guests.

Posted by JusCruzn at January 10, 2009 9:13 AM ET:

AQ & The Taliban were both born and concieved of in Pakistan!

Posted by bard207 at January 10, 2009 12:10 PM ET:

Jerjes Talpur


not only that we must also move to bangladesh to see whats wrong there.

They just had new elections in Bangladesh and chose the moderate path of the Awami League and rejected the BNP which is more conservative and religious. I do not understand the basis for your statement. Please explain.

------------------------------------------------------
After sweeping Pakistan we should move forward for the rest garbage of terrorism in india.

After suceession in FATA , we must go into kashmir and see, what their local people wants, how we can solve their problems, not only that,
we must ask Sirilankan government to provide them support for finishing Indian-Made Tamil tigers, not only that we must also move to bangladesh to see whats wrong there.


Those are grand plans, but many doubt that Pakistan will be able to even accomplish the first one that you listed which is:

After suceession in FATA

If Pakistan is truly able to sweep FATA of all the miltants, then it could have some traction as a credible voice in resolving some other issues in the Region. Until that happens, Pakistan shouldn't worry about what is happening in other countries because it has plenty to concentrate on at home.

Posted by Jerjes Talpur at January 10, 2009 1:25 PM ET:

Question by flyonthewall

Jerges,
If Pakistan's commitment against terrorists is authentic, why are the Mumbai Murderers and their mentors not recognized as such and brought to justice? House arrest?????? Denial???I sure would LOVE to embrace your view, but reality?
--------------------

Answer
flyonthewall this commitment is authentic, we want to see stable pakistan, progressive pakistan, and we are part of international community,so we working with them.
Operation in FATA is going on.


Mumbai case is in process we are having intelligence sharing with india, and through proper investigation we will give them punishment according to law.


India has not made any treaty with Pakistan to hand over any suspected man.
so we will deal with them in pakistan, according to international law.


-----------------------
Question by Tim Sumner


If Pakistan wants peace, it better do everything it is capabale of about its unpeaceful citizens and their likewise murderous guests.

--------------


Answer
Tim we are already doing everything to make complete peaceful atmosphere in tribal areas no matter what it cost, because we will not tolerate if any terrorist miss use our soil.


You will not only find pakistani tribel people there, you will also see foreigners, chechins uzbaiks sweeden egyptians arabs, french so many.

--------------

Question by bard207
Those are grand plans, but many doubt that Pakistan will be able to even accomplish the first one that you listed which is:


After suceession in FATA


If Pakistan is truly able to sweep FATA of all the miltants, then it could have some traction as a credible voice in resolving some other issues in the Region. Until that happens, Pakistan shouldn't worry about what is happening in other countries because it has plenty to concentrate on at home.


----------------------

Answer :-


FATA is towards succeesion , operation is going on we have got rid of the government in many places, it will take time to completely make that area stable.


We have made more check points at boarder to control external terrorism which coming from afghanistan.


Do you know 75% of afghanistan is under taliban control , United State is fighting with the country whoes majority oppose united states action in their country.

Aint they going to open any dailouge session with them ? i think that gonna be easy and perminant solution for afghanistan.


But we will not let any terrorist miss use Pakistan, we are handing and having action against them we are doing operation in FATA.


These terrorists have not sympathy with pakistan, they are bombing pakistan killing civilians killed brave leader Benazir Bhutto.


we are sure, if united states going to succeed in Aghanistan things will naturally change in pakistans tribal areas.


If not then we are already in war with Taliban. and will stable things at our own, which United state has disturbed.


Posted by bard207 at January 11, 2009 5:29 AM ET:

Jerjes Talpur

Pakistan has extreme difficulty maintaining order in Hangu (NWFP), much less rolling back the militants in FATA.

NWFP: Hangu sectarian violence intensifies further

Posted by T Ruth at January 11, 2009 10:18 AM ET:

mr talpur, when you talk about "go(ing) into kashmir", i presume you mean pak-held kashmir, for you may have heard that in the peaceful elections in indian kashmir there was a voter turnout of 61.5%!!!!!!!!!!!!! despite the nov26 bombay bombings coming in the middle of that process! you have also read the bard's comments above re b'desh & hangu...
good idea for pak not to be too adventurous.

SIMPLY TAKE RESPONSBILITY FOR WHAT GOES ON IN YOUR TERRITORY--THATS ENOUGH!

the FACT is pakistan's credibility has never been lower in all its history! Get REAL.

Posted by Jerjes Talpur at January 11, 2009 10:38 AM ET:

T Ruth

What we are doing for the sake of our country and you also dont need to worry about it, because we are doing for our people's sake not for your.

occupied Kashmiris elections were never fair and free, 65% turn out is indian report, occupied kashmir election commission is also occupied and under indian control, so they will do what ever suits them.

Lets do re-election under UNO authority you will get to know what is reality, do you know? half of the leaders of occupied kashmir were under arrest how you are saying election were not rigged.

for your kind information, international community is aware that all happening in occupied kashmir at the will of India not by the will of local people of occupied kashmir.

I would not reply at bards comment because he can not have more idea then me, what going on in hangu i m citizen of pakistan, i know very well then some one else that whats going on , in my surroundings.

Posted by bard207 at January 11, 2009 2:39 PM ET:

Jerjes Talpur

I would not reply at bards comment because he can not have more idea then me, what going on in hangu i m citizen of pakistan, i know very well then some one else that whats going on , in my surroundings.

Do you realize that if you are able to dismiss -- disqualify me from discussing Pakistan because I don't live there, then you have also dismissed -- disqualified yourself from discussing Afghanistan, India (including Kashmir), Bangladesh and Sri Lanka because you don't live in any of those countries, but in Pakistan?

---------------------------------------------------------

I would not reply at bards comment because he can not have more idea then me, what going on in hangu i m citizen of pakistan, i know very well then some one else that whats going on , in my surroundings.


Jerjes seems to be implying that Dawn is not a credible source for information on the conflict in Hangu and that I am somewhat foolish for using them as a source.

Let me see if there are other sources beyond Dawn for the Hangu story...

17 killed, 30 injured in Hangu clashes

Six more killed in Hangu

Deadly clashes leaves 10 dead in Hangu

17 killed in Hangu violence

I made sure to use sources that are Pakistani centered to avoid Jerjes accusing me of using biased sources from outside of Pakistan. If it is preferred that I use non Pakistani sources because the Pakistani sources have fabricated the Hangu story to discredit their country, then I will be able to provide them.

Other than some differences in casualties, the stories read about the same. My guess on the differing numbers is differences in times when the stories were published and the information that was available at the time.

The version published by Dawn has the most details which means they either have more reporters in the Hangu area compared to the other publications or they are more adept at making up facts to blemish the image of Pakistan.

Since I found no English language publication that contradicts the Hangu covertage by Dawn, then I feel that their version of the story is fairly correct. If it wasn't correct, then Jerjes would have provided a valid source to discredit me and my usage of Dawn rather than just trying to wave me off.

-------------------------------------------------------
I would not reply at bards comment because he can not have more idea then me, what going on in hangu i m citizen of pakistan, i know very well then some one else that whats going on , in my surroundings.

Perhaps you do know what is going on in Hangu, but are reluctant to admit it at the Long War Journal. If you still think that the trouble in Hangu (and other parts of Pakistan beyond FATA) are fabricated stories by the enemies of Pakistan, then we will always disagree.

Posted by jerjes Talpur at January 12, 2009 2:53 PM ET:

bard207


Go and read these update of these news, :) Hango is again under control of Pakistani Military.

You discuss and waste your time at old news and reviews, i finished discussing at this thread with my last updated report that hangu is now under control.

This just happened that we shifted our troops thats why the condition worsen.

You have right to discuss about current affairs at any country, i never stopped you and i have not such right.

So Move on.

I AM ENDING MY DISCUSSIONS AT THIS THREAD BECAUSE IT IS OUT OF DATE NOW.

Bye