Senior al Qaeda military commander killed in Predator strike

The US killed a key al Qaeda military leader based in Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan during an airstrike on Feb. 17.

Sheikh Mansoor was killed in a Predator attack that targeted a Taliban compound in the village of Tapi near Miramshah, the main town in North Waziristan. Two other “militants” were initially reported killed in the airstrike; it is not currently known if there were any other senior al Qaeda or Taliban operatives killed. Dawn News reported that the airstrike “left number of other important militants killed.”

Both Geo News and Dawn reported that a funeral was held for Mansoor, and that Mohammed Haqqani, a mid-level Haqqani Network military commander and brother of the group’s top military commander Siraj Haqqani, was killed by another drone strike while preparing to attend Mansoor’s burial on Feb. 18.

US intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal said they believe Sheikh Mansoor was killed in the attack on Feb. 17.

“We’re pretty sure that Mohammed Haqqani was killed while going to Sheikh Mansoor’s burial,” an intelligence official said. “We were gunning for Siraj but got his little brother instead. It is still a good kill; the Haqqanis are dangerous and Mohammed was involved in the family business.”

Sheikh Mansoor was a commander in al Qaeda’s Lashkar al Zil, or the Shadow Army, US officials said. He was based in North Waziristan but carried out attacks against US and Afghan forces across the border in Afghanistan.

Mansoor’s family has a pedigree in jihad. His father was Ahmed Said Al Khadr, an al Qaeda operative who was killed in October 2003, Geo Newsreported. Khadr, who is also known as Abdul Rehman Khadr al Kanadi, was born in Cairo, Egypt, but was a Canadian national.

Khadr was a close confidant of Osama bin Laden, who invited Kanadi to join the Shura Majlis, the top leadership council, after the US invasion of Afghanistan. Khadr was tasked with helping al Qaeda families escape into Pakistan. He was also close to South Waziristan Taliban leader Mullah Nazir, who shelters al Qaeda leaders in the Wazir tribal areas.

Khadr was wanted by the US for his suspected ties to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the US. He was also on the United Nations’ 1267 Committee list of designated terrorists. Pakistani security forces killed Kanadi and several other al Qaeda fighters during a raid in October 2003.

Mansoor’s two other brothers, Omar and Abdurahman, have both spent time at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba after being detained while fighting US forces in Afghanistan in 2001. Omar, the youngest detainee (he is thought to have been 15 when he was captured), is still in custody. Abdurahman was released in 2003.

Background on the recent strikes in Pakistan

US intelligence believes that al Qaeda has reconstituted its external operations network in Pakistan’s lawless, Taliban-controlled tribal areas. This network is tasked with hitting targets in the West, India, and elsewhere. The US has struck at these external cells using unmanned Predator aircraft and other means in an effort to disrupt al Qaeda’s external network and decapitate the leadership. The US also has targeted al Qaeda-linked Taliban fighters operating in Afghanistan, particularly the notorious Haqqani Network.

As of the summer of 2008, al Qaeda and the Taliban operated 157 known training camps in the tribal areas and the Northwest Frontier Province. Al Qaeda has been training terrorists holding Western passports to conduct attacks, US intelligence officials have told The Long War Journal. Some of the camps are devoted to training the Taliban’s military arm; some train suicide bombers for attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan; some focus on training the various Kashmiri terror groups; some train al Qaeda operatives for attacks in the West; some train the Lashkar al Zil, al Qaeda’s Shadow Army; and one serves as a training ground for the Black Guard, the elite bodyguard unit for Osama bin Laden, Ayman al Zawahiri, and other senior al Qaeda leaders.

The air campaign has had success over the past three months. Since Dec. 8, 2009, the air campaign in Pakistan has killed three senior al Qaeda leaders, a senior Taliban commander, a senior Haqqani Network commander, two senior al Qaeda operatives, and a wanted Palestinian terrorist who was allied with al Qaeda. The status of Pakistani Taliban leader Hakeemullah Mehsud is still unknown.

Already this year, the US has killed Mansur al Shami, an al Qaeda ideologue and aide to al Qaeda’s leader in Afghanistan, Mustafa Abu Yazid; Sheikh Mansoor, a Shadow Army commander based in North Waziristan; Mohammed Haqqani, a military commander in the Haqqani Network; and Haji Omar Khan, a senior Taliban leader in North Waziristan. Jamal Saeed Abdul Rahim, the Abu Nidal Organization operative who participated in killing 22 hostages during the 1986 hijacking of Pan Am flight 73, is thought to have been killed in the Jan. 9 airstrike. And Abdul Basit Usman, an Abu Sayyaf operative with a $1 million US bounty for information leading to his capture, is rumored to have been killed in a strike on Jan. 14, although a Philippine military spokesman said Usman is likely still alive and in the Philippines.

In December 2009, the US killed Abdullah Said al Libi, the top commander of the Shadow Army; Zuhaib al Zahib, a senior commander in the Shadow Army; and Saleh al Somali, the leader of al Qaeda’s external network [see LWJ report, “Senior al Qaeda and Taliban leaders killed in US airstrikes in Pakistan, 2004 – 2010” for the full list].

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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  • Tyler says:

    Still trying to figure out exactly which Khadr brother was killed. Most of the family resides in Canada still.

  • Zeissa says:

    Not sure if the pie has been updated for this news update, but here’s something half useful (for the ones with many airstrikes to average things out):
    Islamist Leaders killed per faction per strike (the more strikes the more the statistics MAY be reliable regarding PAST actions):
    (27) Haqqani Network: 3.83
    (22) Waliur-Baitullah Mehsud: 4.20
    (20) Mullah Nazir: 2.22
    (15) Abu Kasha Al Iraqi: 1.875
    (13) Hafiz Gul Bahadar: 6.50
    (4) Hakemullah Mehsud: 4
    (3) Faqir Mohammed: 1.50
    (2) Gulbuddin Hekmyatar: 2
    (8) Unknown: 2.00

  • Zeissa says:

    A highly unreliable statistic of course, but in the more numerous cases it helps give limited general feeling as to past efficiency.

  • Zeissa says:

    Sorry, that’s the number of strikes per one Islamist leader killed.

  • Zeissa says:

    So they live in Canada? They should be questioned and if found to likely have commited treason should be tried, then if found guilty interrogated and executed or deported.

  • BullsEye says:


  • ArneFufkin says:

    Given the time passed and his notable absence … is it logical for one to conclude that Smilin’ Hakee is indeed taking the martyr dirt nap?

  • Tyler says:

    Zeissa, yes…Abdul Said Khadr’s widow and many of his children reside in Canada. Controversial for sure, and his widow is an outspoken Islamist. But worth noting that one of his sons, Abdulrahman, flipped after his capture and became a rather useful spy for the CIA, first in Guantanamo and then in the Balkans, for which he earned scorn from many of his family members. I hear the movie is still in the works.

  • TLA says:

    These characters and their families should forfeit their rights to Western citizenship; otherwise we’re just going to lose.

  • joe says:

    Uhm…TLA – if you take out people just for being related to a terrorist, without them actually doing anything criminal (such as providing money or shelter to terrorists) – well, then we have ALREADY LOST.
    At least with regards to being morally superior.
    There’s probably a case for gagging those spreading Hate, and one for requiring medieval religions to denounce the unacceptable-to-the-western-world ideas that they continue to spread….. But what you suggest is a little too close to deliberately persecuting the uninvolved.

  • Dan says:

    Bill, Dan from al-Sahwa. The strikes have been successful, yes, in targeting senior leadership. This may prove so for only a time being – we have to plan to expect the enemy to morph (as they have proven). Is it not sustainable to strike the tentacles that is overseen by senior leasership, I.e. Training. This mid-tier tactic targets the future leaders while dismantling the capabilities of senior level. Just a thought.

  • TLA says:

    But persecution is the only sort of thing that will prevent their relations from supporting them (financially, morally or logistically). The moral argument is the tricky one – but that’s because they don’t want to understand ours.
    If the persecution requires a different sort of law – then this is because this new kind of warfare cannot rely on preceding ones.
    If they hate it here they need to leave. We will lose unless we adapt ourselves.
    WE will have to go an awful long way to be their moral inferiors.

  • George says:

    The current war, as serious as it is, pales compared to past conflicts.

    The Soviet Union had the means to literally destroy this country–kill tens of millions of American– for 30 years. In the early years of the cold war, there was a large minority of communist sympathizers that worked to assist their cause. Yet even with that threat, we consider (and I consider) 50s-era red baiting to be a undemocratic overreaction to the situation.

    Islamic extremists are violent, evil, and committed, but they are stunningly weak in terms of ideology and means. There are an incredibly tiny number of true islamic extremists in this country. Even worldwide, compare the influence of islamic extremists to that of communists in the 50s, or fascists in the 30s. The fact that the Islamic extremists use terrorism as their means of attack only illustrates their inability to defeat us directly in any way.

    I have no illusions about the seriousness of this fight, but winning does not require dismantling the very freedoms and rights that make this country great.

  • Mr T says:

    The uninvolved?
    Yeah right.

  • Getem says:

    Which Khadr son was killed? Wikipedia has them all dead, captured, or in Canada.

  • skdadl says:

    You’ve got the Khadr family wrong. None of them was Mansoor. The wiki has the list of the children: two daughters; Abdullah, who is in Canada fighting extradition; Abdurahman, who works with U.S. intel; a son who died in childhood; Omar, at GTMO; and Abdulkareem, a paraplegic who is back in Canada.

  • diane1976 says:

    I wrote to the writer of the article to asked where he got the info of another Khadr son nobody else seems to have heard of.
    As for lumping together and persecuting all persons from the most despicable terrorist leaders to anybody with any connection to some similar religious, ideological or political beliefs, even being born into a family with those…..this is not only morally reprehensible, it’s probably counter-productive.
    Short term, it likely intimidates and deters some. Long term, and when excessive, it starts to radicalize people and acts as draw to the cause being fought. When carried to an extreme it begins to destroy democratic freedoms, as the net of persecution grows wider and wider based on more and more flawed rationalizations.

  • Zeissa says:

    Spies should of course be rewarded greatly ^^… I hope he also had a change of heart.

  • Zeissa says:

    Oh, he served in multiple theatres? I guess he must’ve had at least a partial change of heart then… even if took him being captured.
    Joe: You heard what he said. His wife is an outspoken Islamist. What’s the problem?

  • Zeissa says:

    George & Joe:
    George, you seriously need to study Islam if you think only a small number are Islamic ‘extremists’. The historical, theological, exgetical, political and Koranic and Hadithic all support violent Islam far more than it does left-wing forms. Where there are conflicts later more hate-filled Sures will take precedence. The small minority you refer to are their soldiers, as soldiers of civilized nations are a small minority.
    I’ve studied Western history and the current mainstream of self-hatred and run-away civil rights are not in fact necessary for ‘freedom and greatness’. Liberal Western Culture has existed and flourished long before outright treachery was tolerated.
    Furthermore if you would take the time to study Islamic political and religious history and theology it is an accepted doctrine to be moderate-leftist while you’re in a minority muslim country, also known as the House of War.
    Islam was designed by a man to conquer territories in a short amount of time completely (and then genocide the locals as they’re no longer necessary as converts are gained as in India) and to deceive its enemies. Fortunately it being inherently ultra-conservative it has failed to evolve upon the scientifically-minded cultures it eradicated and partially co-opted.
    There’s even a Sure where Allah tells the believers not to bother him too much at his home and eat his food because he’s too polite to ask them to leave…
    What I’m saying here is that Islam is a cunning deception. While I do not think ‘the innocent’ sleeper cells that do not even know their descendents will be activated when moderate-right wing Islam is accetpable should be persecuted I definitely think that their active cells can be persecuted with full morality.

  • Zeissa says:

    In addendum to my second-third lengthy above post I find it rather disgusting that one would term national security, as the moves we suggested, a breach of liberty and good morals.
    Human morality is based on quid pro quo. What we suggested was merely the fundaments of justice and security. A full quid pro quo would be bombing his wife since she supports Islamist suicide bombers, and that would still not be ‘falling to their level’, merely defending oneself.
    Your (and half mine) western society has obviously forgotten what self-defense is above individual terms.

  • John Abraham says:

    TLA is right, I don’t know why people here see a problem with his statement. May be lack of background on the issue.
    Elsamnah (wife of Khadr) says (Wikipedia)
    “I like my son to be brave…I would like my son to be trained to protect himself, to protect his home, to protect his neighbor, to see a young girl innocent, being raped or attacked, to really fight to defend it. I would really love to do that, and I would love my son to grow with this mentality…[a]nd you would you like me to raise my child in Canada and by the time he’s 12 or 13 he’ll be on drugs or having some homosexual relation or this and that? Is it better? For me, no. I would rather have my son as a strong man who knows right and wrong and stands for it, even if it’s against his parents.”
    It is quite clear that she has nothing but contempt for Western society. Imagine how outraged the Muslims will be if someone says that all Muslims are terrorists.
    That’s what she has done. Yes there is drug abuse and homosexuality in the West, but not everyone indulges. Besides there is more widespread drug abuse(and addiction) in Muslims countries (see Iran 30% and Pakistan 15%). About homosexuality, no one will come out since punishment is death.
    Now lets look at the other side. Most of the recent (20 years) terrorists are Muslims. Now are we publicly saying that all Muslims are terrorists.
    This woman has said an equivalent and we in the West are too PC to eject her. Let her raise her kids in her heavenly Palestine. After all that is what she said.

  • Alex Cook says:

    This article has been cited in Frontier Outlook:

  • Render says:

    Suicidal meat bombers are not the product of a “weak ideology.”
    I put the “tiny minority” number somewhere close to 10%…
    …of 1.2 Billion…

  • George says:

    It is a weak ideology, not because of any lack of commitment from its adherents (like SLA or RAF or IRA or other now-irrelevant groups), but because it has minimal appeal in most of the world. Extremists have influence in the most miserable countries on earth, they have virtually none in the Western World.
    Zeissa, you seem to think this is a worldwide battle against all of Islam. That is the one way to lose.

  • Mr T says:

    “but because it has minimal appeal in most of the world.”
    Read the Koran, which IS the governing document. Appeal? How is it that Muslims get to pick which “appealing” parts to follow and which to reject?l

  • Render says:

    1.2 Billion is approximately close to 1/6th of the entire human population of the planet.
    The 10% (the “tiny minority”


Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram