A jihadist forum has released a video of an al Qaeda fighter from Saudi Arabia who was killed in Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled Waziristan tribal areas in 2009.
Yesterday the al Qaeda-linked al-Fida’ forum posted the video of Abdullah bin Muhsin al Shahri, a Saudi from Riyadh who is also known as Abu Rawaha. He does not appear to be on the list of Saudi Arabia’s most-wanted terrorists. The video was translated by the SITE Intelligence Group, and was also part of al Qaeda’s Diary of a Mujahid series, which is produced by As Sahab, al Qaeda’s media outlet.
According to al Qaeda, Abu Rawaha traveled to “the land of jihad and garrison” – or the Afghan-Pakistani border – sometime between September and October of 2007. He was killed “in Waziristan” in January or February of 2009. It is unclear if he died in a US drone strike or while fighting Pakistani security forces.
Al Qaeda described Abu Rawaha as a “poet,” and the video features him reciting his poetry. In one poem, he discussed “the brothers” who were killed “in Gardez,” an eastern Afghan city which is the capital of Paktia province. Abu Rawaha said that the cell leader, who he identified as Sheikh Abu Salama, was killed with five fighters after being “bombed.”
In Afghanistan, al Qaeda is known to embed small teams of trainers with Taliban and other terrorist groups, and in the east is known to fight on the battlefield in small units. [See LWJ reports, Al Qaeda’s paramilitary ‘Shadow Army’ and ‘Foreign trainers’ active in southeastern Afghan province, for more information on al Qaeda’s role in Afghanistan.] Abu Rawaha appears to be describing one such unit in the video.
Saudis continue to play a significant role in al Qaeda, from its leaders to its fighters, despite the death of Osama bin Laden, himself a Saudi, at the hands of US special operations forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in May 2011.
Abdur Rehman al Saudi was involved in the recent negotiations to create the Shura-e-Murakeba, an alliance of Taliban groups, including the Haqqani Network, along the Afghan-Pakistani border. Abdur Rehman conducted the negotiations along with Abu Yahya al Libi, one of al Qaeda’s top leaders.
Other senior Saudis who operate in the region are Mohammad Abul Khair and Osama bin Laden’s son, Sa’ad. Both are also known to operate from within Iran.
The US has killed several Saudi leaders and fighters in airstrikes along the Afghan-Pakistani border over the past several years. Among them are Abu Hafs al Shahri, al Qaeda’s operations chief for Pakistan (killed September 2011); Abu Hafs al Najdi, al Qaeda’s operations chief for Kunar province (killed April 2011); Sa’ad Mohammad al Shahri, a longtime jihadist and the son of a retired Saudi colonel (killed October 2010); and Abdallah Umar al Qurayshi, al Qaeda’s third-in-command in Afghanistan, who also maintained extensive contacts with facilitators throughout the Middle East (killed September 2010).