Fedayeen-i-Islam commander thought killed in US airstrike


zafar.jpg

Qari Mohammad Zafar, a leader of the Fedayeen-i-Islam.

A top terrorist leader wanted by the US for attacking the consulate in Karachi in 2006 is thought to have been killed during an airstrike in North Waziristan.

Qari Mohammad Zafar, the operational commander of the Fedayeen-i-Islam, is reported to have been killed in a US airstrike in the village of Danda Darpa Khel, Pakistani officials told Dawn. The US last hit the village on Feb. 18, and killed Mohammed Haqqani, a military commander in the Haqqani Network.

US intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal would not confirm his death but said it was "possible" he was killed.

"We've received some information that may verify the reports but we cannot be certain," an official said. "It is possible but we cannot confirm. We'd like to check him off our list as he is dangerous."

Zafar is wanted by the US government for his involvement in the Karachi Consulate bombing in 2006, which resulted in the death of three Pakistanis and a consular official. "Zafar is suspected of being a key figure involved with this attack," according to the Rewards for Justice website page. A $5 million reward has been offered for information leading the capture of Zafar.

Zafar is a senior leader of the Fedayeen-e-Islam, an alliance between the Pakistani Taliban, the anti-Shia Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and Jaish-e-Mohammed [see LWJ report, "Terror alliance takes credit for Peshawar hotel assault" ]. The group was based in the Mehsud tribal areas in South Waziristan but fled the region after the Pakistani military began an offensive there in October 2009.

Other senior leaders of the Fedayeen-e-Islam include Qari Hussain Mehsud, the notorious Taliban commander who trains child suicide bombers; Asmatullah Moaviya, another senior aide to Baitullah who was reportedly arrested in Mianwali in Punjab province; and Rana Afzal.

The Fedayeen-e-Islam took credit for some of the more deadly attacks in Pakistan, including the September 2008 suicide attack on the Islamabad Marriott Hotel, the March 2009 storming of a police station in Lahore, and the June 2009 suicide assault on the Pearl Continental Hotel in Peshawar.

Zafar is also closely linked to Qari Saifullah Akhtar, the leader of the Harkat-ul-Jihad-i-Islami. Zafar and Akhtar are thought to have been the main leaders of the September 2008 suicide attack on the Marriott hotel in Islamabad.



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READER COMMENTS: "Fedayeen-i-Islam commander thought killed in US airstrike"

Posted by Dan A at February 25, 2010 12:59 PM ET:

So Bill, how big time is this hit? What kind of force/influence does Fedayeen-i-Islam have? Sounds to me like the influence equivalent of a mid-level al-qaeda by what you're saying, but you might be able to shed more light on that.

Posted by Bill Roggio at February 25, 2010 1:08 PM ET:

Mid-to-upper level. You can see the attacks they've been able to pull off. What is more interesting is how they are conglomerating in North Waziristan.

Posted by Meremortal at February 25, 2010 3:15 PM ET:

Yes Bill, you raise an interesting point. We've been peppering this area with success for some time now, and we are still finding targets. Perhaps the bad guys are running out of places where they are accepted, or perhaps this is the safest place they can find even though it isn't very safe for them.

Posted by jayc at February 25, 2010 3:56 PM ET:

He seems to be far more dangerous to the Pakistanis than to the Afghan effort. I'll bet the Shiites are dancing in the streets on this one.

Posted by Zeissa at February 25, 2010 4:39 PM ET:

Another evil man goes to hell.

Posted by Zeissa at February 25, 2010 4:42 PM ET:

Are there many innocents in North Waziristan? I am not sure if there are many neutrals or potential friendlies there or whether it is the most hostile region at the grassroots level. Where is the Pakistani army or allowance to secure the region...

The only way to safeguard the local population with current means is to increase airstrikes to the point where they fear staying in the province. I do not say this because I love airstrikes (which I do), but because it is the humane, altruistic approach in this situation.

Posted by George at February 26, 2010 12:05 AM ET:

"Are there many innocents?"

Well, there are 120,000 children under 10.

Don't demonize the entire region. Many, many of them have nothing to do with this fight.

Posted by Zeissa at February 26, 2010 7:38 PM ET:

I'm not demonizing the region, but asking an honest question as you would see if you'd read my question with a bit of care.

And people 9 years old or younger are not automatically innocent, what sort of ageist propaganda is this... infants, sure, children? I judge them by their actions.