Al Qaeda operatives killed in Afghanistan were Saudis


Banner announcing the death of al Qaeda operatives Abu Suleiman al Otaibi and Abu Dejana al Qahtani, as published at the al Qaeda-linked Al Ekhlass forum. Otaibi is pictured in the animation.

New information has emerged on the two al Qaeda operatives who were recently killed in Afghanistan’s Paktia province. The NEFA Foundation has published a translation of the martyr’s notice for Abu Suleiman al Otaibi and Abu Dejana al Qahtani, while a US intelligence official has provided background information on Otaibi’s involvement with al Qaeda in Iraq’s Islamic State of Iraq. Both Otaibi and Dejana are Saudi nationals, while Dejana is the brother of one of the four al Qaeda operatives who escaped from Bagram prison in 2005.

Abu Suleiman al Otaibi

Abu Suleiman al Otaibi is a Saudi national who served as a senior leader in al Qaeda’s Islamic State of Iraq prior to meeting his end in Afghanistan, according to a senior US military intelligence official who spoke to The Long War Journal on the condition he remains anonymous. The statement issued by al Qaeda intimates Otaibi is Saudi as well. “We offer our condolences to their families, to the mujahideen brothers, to all of our brothers in general, and especially to the brothers of Abu Sulaiman in Iraq and in the Arabian Peninsula,” according to the translation from the NEFA Foundation.

Otaibi “came from Iraq and joined his brothers here [in Afghanistan] approximately six months ago, following migration and jihad and knowledge and missionary work and scholarship,” al Qaeda’s death notice stated. He was described in the press reports former leader of the legal system of al Qaeda in Iraq’s political front, the Islamic State of Iraq.

But the Islamic State of Iraq declared upon its formation that Abu Uthman al Tamimi was the minister of its sharia, or Islamic law, council. There is no contradiction in Tamimi and Otaibi holding the same position, the intelligence official stated.

Tamimi is a “real person,” the military intelligence official noted, but he is merely the Iraqi face for the Islamic State of Iraq’s sharia courts. Otaibi served as Tamimi’s minder to ensure he performed his duties to al Qaeda’s satisfaction. Otaibi was “equivalent to the military advisors that the Soviets used to embed with local communist movements to bring them further in line with the Party,” the military intelligence official stated.

This arrangement is prevalent in the Islamic State of Iraq’s senior leadership. The Islamic State of Iraq officially lists Abu Omar al Baghdadi as its emir, or leader, but Multinational Forces Iraq learned that Baghdadi is essentially a creation of Abu Ayyub al Masri, al Qaeda in Iraq’s leader. Al Masri created the Islamic State of Iraq to put an Iraqi face on al Qaeda’s efforts.

Abu Dejana al Qahtani

Like Otaibi, Abu Dejana al Qahtani is a Saudi national. The al Qaeda death notice also notes that Abu Dejana is the brother of Abu Nasir al Qahtani, one of four al Qaeda operatives who escaped from Bagram prison during the summer of 2005. Abu Nasir escaped along with senior al Qaeda leaders Abu Yahya al Libi and Omar Farouq.

Farouq was reassigned to Iraq after his escape to facilitate the flow of money, weapons, and fighters for al Qaeda, some of it funneled from Iran. British special forces killed Omar Farouq in Basrah, Iraq in September 2006. Al Libi is an al Qaeda spokesman and a leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. He is currently operating from the tribal areas of northern Pakistan.

After his escape from Bagram, Abu Nasir fled to North Waziristan to continue attacks against NATO and Afghan forces inside Afghanistan. Abu Nasir joined forces with al Qaeda operative Abu Wafa, who operated from the North Waziristan tribal agency in Pakistan. They were active in the Afghan provinces of Khost, Paktia, and Paktika.

Abu Nasir released propaganda and training videos for terrorists operating in both Afghanistan and Iraq. He was captured in Khost province in November 2006.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • David M says:

    The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 05/13/2008 News and Personal dispatches from the front lines.

  • AQI Losses says:

    Excellent report as it makes it more clear Otaibi’s importance and his postion within AQ. It also adds insight on the level of control AQ central has on AQI.
    I did not know that the Iraqi sharia minister had a foreign al-Qaeda counterpart. I knew Baghdadi was fictional and the role of the ISI was to put an Iraqi face on AQI, but not this. I wonder if it’s true for other ministers in the ISI cabinet. Could be.

  • AQI Losses says:

    This is breaking new from MEMRI.
    Against the backdrop of the marking of five years since the May 12, 2003 attack in Saudi Arabia, Al-Qaeda has sent a message over the Internet to its operatives in Saudi Arabia calling on them “to leave the country for Yemen, lest [you] be killed or arrested by Saudi security forces.”
    Saudi security forces have been successful. In recent years at least six al-Qaeda operational chiefs for Saudi Arabia have been killed.
    Sheikh Yousef al Ayyiri
    Abu Hazim al-Shair, aka Khaled Ali Haj
    Abdel Aziz al-Muqrin
    Younis Mohammed Ibrahim al-Hayari
    Saleh Mohammed al-Aoofi (al-Oufi)
    Fahd Faraj al-Juwair
    With Yemen’s violence and instability, it is not surprising that if AQ is truly fleeing Saudi Arabia, they would go there.

  • Our friends – the saudis

    Al Qaeda operatives killed in Afghanistan were Saudis.
    Abu Suleiman al Otaibi is a Saudi national who served as a senior leader in al Qaeda’s Islamic State of Iraq prior to meeting his end in Afghanistan.
    Abu Dejana al Qahtani is (also)…


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