A senior al Qaeda leader who is based in Syria and has close ties to al Qaeda’s General Command in Pakistan said that six of his “dearest comrades” were killed in an airstrike in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. The six al Qaeda operatives were likely killed in a US drone strike on July 10.
Three of the six al Qaeda operatives were identified by Sanafi al Nasr, the head of al Qaeda’s “Victory Committee.” Nasr, a Saudi whose real name is Abdul Mohsin Abdullah Ibrahim Al Sharikh, is a top leader in al Qaeda. As the leader of the Victory Committee, Nasr is responsible for developing and implementing al Qaeda’s strategy and policies. [See LWJ report, Head of al Qaeda ‘Victory Committee’ in Syria.]
Nasr, who is a prolific online jihadist, tweeted on July 14 on the “Martyrdom of six of the dearest comrades of the path in Khorasan, among them my brother and loved one and apple of my eye Taj al Makki and my brother the kind and generous Abu Abdurahman al Kuwaiti yesterday in a bombardment of spies,” according to a translation by Oren Adaki. The Khorasan is a geographic area that includes Afghanistan and Pakistan, where al Qaeda’s senior leadership is based.
Nasr identifed the third al Qaeda operative who was killed in the bombing as Fayez Awda al Khalidi. He did not name the three other al Qaeda operatives who were killed.
Little is publicly known about Makki, Kuwaiti, and Khalidi. US intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal said that Makki, who is from Saudi Arabia, and Kuwaiti are mid-level al Qaeda commanders and likely are important to the terror group due to their association with Nasr.
A US intelligence official familiar with the US’ drone campaign that targets al Qaeda’s organization in Pakistan said it is very likely that the six jihadists were killed in the July 10 strike that took place in the village of Doga Mada Khel in North Waziristan’s Datta Khel area. Six jihadists were reported killed in the strike, but they were never identified.
The US has conducted two other strikes in the Datta Khel area since July 10. In the early morning of July 19, US drones launched eight missiles at a compound in the same village, killing at least 11 jihadists, including two commanders in the Punjabi Taliban. And on July 16, the US reportedly killed 18 jihadists, including 12 “of Central Asian origin,” in a strike in the village of Saidgai.
Datta Khel is a known hub for al Qaeda’s military command. Some of al Qaeda’s top leaders have been killed in drone strikes in Datta Khel, including Mustafa Abu Yazid, a longtime al Qaeda leader and close confidant of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri; Abdullah Said al Libi, the commander of the Lashkar al Zil, or Shadow Army; and Zuhaib al Zahibi, a general in the Shadow Army.