Mansur al Shami on an al Qaeda propaganda tape released on the Internet.
An al Qaeda operative from Jordan was killed during a recent US airstrike in Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan,
Mansur al Shami, a longtime jihadi whose real name is Mahmud Mahdi Zeidan, was confirmed to have been killed in a statement released on the Al Faloja and Shamukh al Islam jihadist web forums, according to the SITE Institute.
“The martyrdom of Mahmud Mahdi Zeidan… on the soil of Pakistan, the land of the diligent and of the mujahedeen is confirmed,” the statement read.
Shami’s family was also contacted by a member of al Qaeda who was present during the strike. “A man called me on Sunday and said my brother died in the US attack,” Shami’s brother Omar told AFP. “He spoke bad Arabic and said he escaped the attack. I think he is a Pakistani.”
Shami served as an ideologue and as a bodyguard for senior al Qaeda leader Mustafa Abu Yazid, the group’s commander in Afghanistan and chief financier. According to Shami’s brother, he worked for Taliban Radio in Afghanistan in 2001. Shami’s father is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group that is a gateway to al Qaeda, and Shami’s other brother Ibrahim was captured by US forces in Afghanistan in 2001 and spent five years at Guantanamo Bay before being released in 2006.
Shami starred in two propaganda tapes in the past six months. The tapes were released by As Sahab, al Qaeda’s primary media production arm. His last tape was released just one week before his death was announced. On Jan. 4, 2010, Shami was seen in a sermon for the Eid al Adha holiday. In August 2009, Shami also appeared on a tape that provided advice to foreign fighters flocking to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
It is unclear which US strike in North Waziristan killed Shami. There have been three strikes in North Waziristan since Jan. 4; however, it is possible Shami was killed in a prior strike, a US intelligence official told The Long War Journal.
“Al Qaeda often has a lead time for its tapes to be released, usually days or weeks, for security reasons,” the official said. “He [Shami] could have been killed in any of the strikes from New Year’s Eve onward.” The US has conducted six strikes in North Waziristan since another Jordanian carried out a suicide attack on a CIA base in Khost Province that killed seven CIA officials and a Jordanian intelligence officer.
US intelligence officials would not comment on the target of the strike that killed Shami; however, given that he is Yazid’s bodyguard, it is likely the US was gunning for the al Qaeda leader.
Yazid has been targeted by the US several times since January 2008. As al Qaeda’s chief financial officer, he is responsible for managing and disbursing the terror group’s funds. Yazid is also one of al Qaeda’s top propagandists; he has released numerous audio and videotape statements. Most recently, Yazid released a statement on the death of the Jordanian suicide bomber and claimed the attack was in revenge for the death of two top al Qaeda leaders and the former leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.