Jamal Saeed Abdul Rahim
The US may have killed a wanted Palestinian terrorist during an airstrike in Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan on Jan. 9.
Jamal Saeed Abdul Rahim, a member of the Abu Nidal Organization who was wanted by the US for his role in the 1986 hijacking of Pan Am flight 73 in Karachi, Pakistan, and subsequent murder of 22 hostages, is said to have been killed in the US airstrike in the village of Tappi in North Waziristan.
US intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal would not comment on reports of Rahim’s death, nor would they disclose if he was the target of the strike.
North Waziristan remains a nexus for al Qaeda, the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and a host of Pakistan and South and Central Asian terror groups. The Jan. 9 strike took place in a region run by Taliban leader Hafiz Gul Bahadar, who is considered ‘good Taliban’ by the Pakistani state as he does not advocate attacks against the Pakistani military and government. Yet a host of terror groups who conduct attacks in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and against the West shelter in Bahadar’s territory.
The US government has offered $5 million rewards for information leading to the arrests of Rahim and of Wadoud Muhammad Hafiz al Turki, Muhammad Abdullah Khalil Hussain ar Rahayyal, and Muhammad Ahmed al Munawar, the three other members still at large of the Abu Nidal terror cell responsible for the Pan Am flight 73 hijacking and subsequent murder. Turki, Rahayyal, and Munawar were also released by Pakistan in January 2008; their whereabouts are unknown.
Zayd Safarini, the leader of the Flight 73 hijacking cell, was captured by the US in Malaysia on Sept. 28, 2001, shortly after his release from a Pakistani prison. In May of 2004, Safarini was convicted of murdering two US citizens and sentenced to 160 years in prison.
Safarini brutally executed Rajesh Kumar, a US citizen, by shooting him in the head in front of the passengers after Safarini’s demands for a new flight crew were not met. The other 21 passengers were killed as Pakistani commandos prepared to board the plane. The terror cell opened fire on the passengers and lobbed hand grenades into the seats.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.