Senior al Qaeda leaders reported killed in North Waziristan strike


Two senior al Qaeda leaders are among those thought to have been killed in the Sept. 8 Predator strike in Pakistan's Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan.

Ilyas Kashmiri and Mustafa al Jaziri may have been killed during the strike in the village of Machi Khel near Mir Ali. Unmanned US strike aircraft are reported to have hit a car and a madrassa in the attack, The News reported.

Initially five Uzbeks from the Islamic Jihad Group were thought to have been killed, but the report was revised to state that two Arab al Qaeda members, three Punjabi jihadis, and two or three local Taliban fighters were killed.

Mustafa al Jaziri is a senior military commander for al Qaeda. "Jaziri sits on al Qaeda's military shura [council]," a senior US military intelligence official told The Long War Journal. "He is an important and effective leader." Jaziri is an Algerian national.

Ilyas Kashmiri is "one of al Qaeda's most dangerous commanders" the official said. He is the operational commander of the Harakat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI), an al Qaeda-linked terror group that operates in Pakistan, Kashmir, India, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh. Kashmiri was recently listed as the fourth most wanted terrorist by Pakistan's Interior Ministry.

Kashmiri is thought to have played a major role in the multi-pronged suicide attack against government and security installations in the eastern Afghan province of Khost in May, the military intelligence official said.

Last year, Kashmiri reportedly drafted a plan to assassinate General Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani, Pakistan's top military officer, but the plan was canceled by al Qaeda's senior leadership, according to a report in the Asia Times.

Harakat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, Laskhar-e-Jhangvi, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and several other Pakistani terror groups have merged with al Qaeda in Pakistan, and operate under the name of Brigade 313. This group is interlinked with Pakistan's Taliban and also recruits senior members of Pakistan's military and intelligence services, a senior US official told The Long War Journal.

Brigade 313 has been behind many of the high-profile attacks and bombings inside Pakistan, including multiple assassination attempts against former President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Gilani. Brigade 313 is one of the six known units in the Lashkar al Zil, al Qaeda's paramilitary Shadow Army.

"If we got Kashmiri, this would be the most successful strike against al Qaeda this year," the official said. Kashmiri's death would be on par with that of Osama al Kini, al Qaeda's operational leader in Pakistan, who was killed during a New Years Day airstrike, the official noted.

US intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal would neither confirm nor deny that Kashmiri and Jaziri had been killed in the airstrike.



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READER COMMENTS: "Senior al Qaeda leaders reported killed in North Waziristan strike"

Posted by KaneKaizer at September 8, 2009 6:18 AM ET:

Further vindication of the entire drone strike campaign. Hopefully one day Bill will have the pleasure of being able to report the deaths of Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri in a similar strike.

Posted by David M at September 8, 2009 10:20 AM ET:

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 09/05/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

Posted by jpt at September 8, 2009 12:52 PM ET:

But another will spring up to replace him and so on and so forth.

Posted by Tyrone at September 8, 2009 2:09 PM ET:

Of course he will be replaced. But there are only so many effective leaders waiting to fill the shoes of those killed. And sooner rather than later, they begin to reach more junior commanders who will be less effective. So, these strikes have good results as regards the overall war effort when we get those being targeted. And of course there is also the FUD factor generated, making the entire organization less effective. Good news when we can put another of these butchers out of the picture.

Posted by Brian at September 8, 2009 3:18 PM ET:

"But another will spring up to replace him and so on and so forth."

And we will make more missiles and drones and so on and so forth.

Posted by Tyler at September 8, 2009 4:07 PM ET:

An experienced commander with a couple decades worth of combat experience is not easily replaced.

Regardless, you have a situation where high-ranking Arab Al Qaeda and Punjabi jihadists were having a face to face meeting under the protection of the local Taliban. I don't think they were planning a bake sale.

Posted by t-bone at September 8, 2009 4:43 PM ET:

Hence the name "Long War". We are only 8 years in. Many years to go still. Many leaders still to find.