Key al Qaeda operative killed in US strike in North Waziristan

The US killed a key al Qaeda operative involved in the network’s external operations during an airstrike last week in the Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan.

Sadam Hussein Al Hussami, who is also known as Ghazwan al Yemeni, was killed during the March 8 airstrike in the town of Miramshah, according to a statement released on a jihadist forum.

The March 8 airstrike was carried out by unmanned US attack aircraft and targeted two terrorist compounds in the middle of a bazaar in the town. Six Haqqani Network and al Qaeda operatives were reported killed.

Three other al Qaeda operatives, identified as Abu Jameelah al Kuwaiti Hamed al Aazimi, who served with slain al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi; Abu Zahra al Maghrebi; and Akramah al Bunjabi al Pakistani, were killed with Hussami, according to a translation of the martyrdom statement released on March 12 by Abu Abdulrahman al Qahtani, who is said to be based in Waziristan. The statement was posted on the Al Falluja Forum and a translation is provided by Global Terror Alert. [For more information on Aazimi, see Threat Matrix report, “Al Qaeda operative killed in Pakistan linked to Zarqawi.”]

According to Qahtani, Hussami was a protege of Abu Khabab al Masri, al Qaeda’s top bomb maker and WMD chief who was killed in a US airstrike in July 2008. Hussami was in a prison in Yemen but was released at an unknown point in time.

Hussami “was involved in training Taliban and foreign al Qaeda recruits for strikes on troops in Afghanistan and targets outside the region,” The Wall Street Journal reported. He “was also on a small council that helped plan” the Dec. 30, 2009, suicide attack at Combat Outpost Chapman that killed seven CIA officials and a Jordanian intelligence officer. The slain intelligence operatives were involved in gathering intelligence for the hunt for al Qaeda and Taliban leaders along the Afghan-Pakistani border.

“Hussami was a skilled operative high up in al Qaeda’s external operations network,” a US intelligence official told The Long War Journal. “He also has direct links to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula,” the terror branch that operates in Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

“He was sorely wanted for his involvement in the COP Chapman suicide attack,” the intelligence official continued. Hussami is said to have been instrumental in helping the Jordanian suicide bomber Humam Khalil Muhammed Abu Mulal al Balawi, who is also known as Abu Dujanah al Khurasani, plan and execute the attack.

Hussami is the first al Qaeda operative killed by the US who is directly linked to the suicide attack at Combat Outpost Chapman. The US has been hunting Hakeemullah Mehsud, the leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, after he appeared on a videotape with Khurasani.

Hussami is the latest al Qaeda and Taliban commander reported killed in Pakistan’s tribal agency of North Waziristan. Unmanned US Predator and Reaper strike aircraft have been pounding Taliban and al Qaeda hideouts in North Waziristan over the past several months in an effort to kill senior terror leaders and disrupt the networks that threaten Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the West. [For more information, see LWJ report, “Senior al Qaeda and Taliban leaders killed in US airstrikes in Pakistan, 2004 – 2010.”]

Since Dec. 8, 2009, the air campaign in Pakistan has killed four senior al Qaeda leaders, a senior Taliban commander, three senior al Qaeda operatives, and a wanted Palestinian terrorist who was allied with al Qaeda. The status of several others – a two top Pakistani Taliban leaders, a member of al Qaeda’s top council, and a wanted Philippine terrorist – is still unknown.

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.

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; Haji Omar Khan, a senior Taliban leader in North Waziristan; Mohammed Haqqani, a military commander in the Haqqani Network; Sheikh Mansoor, an al Qaeda Shadow Army commander; Qari Mohammad Zafar, a leader of the al Qaeda and Taliban-linked Fedayeen-i-Islam; and Sadam Hussein Al Hussami, a senior operative in al Qaeda’s external operations branch. 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 an airstrike on Jan. 9.

Several other senior Taliban and al Qaeda leaders are believed to have been killed in strikes over the past several months, but their deaths have not been confirmed.

The status of Hakeemullah is still unknown; the Taliban released a videotape of him on March 1 but it did not confirm he was alive. Numerous Taliban leaders have stated that he is still alive and in command. On March 15, Khalid Khawaja, a lawyer for terrorist groups in Pakistan and a former ISI officer, claimed that his associates met with Hakeemullah on March 9.

On March 1, a rumor surfaced that Abdul Haq al Turkistani, the leader of the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Party and a member of al Qaeda’s Shura Majlis, was killed in a strike on Feb. 15. 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.

Hafiz Gul Bahadar, the top Taliban commander in North Waziristan, is rumored to have been killed in a swarm attack on March 10 in the Datta Khel region. The Taliban have not confirmed his death, but US intelligence officials did say Bahadar was the target of the strike.

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



  • Tyler says:

    WSJ’s confirmation echoes something that had been kicking around the tubes the past few days. Both SITE intel and Kohlmann relayed how the al-Fallujah forum had posted a communique confirming the death of al-Yemeni by name.
    The posting is translated, and describes al-Yemeni as an explosives expert, a former student of Abu Khabab al Masri, and that he was imprisoned in Yemen for several years before being cycled through the ‘rehabilitation’ program.
    Perhaps more importantly, the posting also talks about a Kuwaiti being killed in the same attack named . The posting describes him as a former Kuwaiti government employee who fought the Soviets in Afghanistan and later served as an aide to Zarqawi in Iraq where he was wounded. Described at great length as a master explosives expert and trainer and as well a former student of al-Masri.
    Two other fighters, a Pakistani and a fresh recruit of North African descent (possibly with European/Western citizenship) are also reported killed in the posting.

  • Mr T says:

    With all these Senior levels kills, you would think we would begng to see some fraying around the edges of the organization. Some defectors, some buzz about morale, some infighting, some turf wars, some movement of types of fighters, some reduced bombing capacity, maybe even some increased suicide attacka as the noose tightens.
    Is there any evidence that these strikes are having an effect on the organization as a whole or are they just replacing the leaders with the many others in line so there is no real degradation of capabilities?

  • KaneKaizer says:

    Anyone who still argues against this program clearly doesn’t appreciate success in fighting terrorists. This is by far the most successful program I’ve seen implemented when it comes to attacking a terrorist organization’s command structure, terrorists from groups all across the globe are even being killed there. Keep terrorizing the terrorists.

  • Civy says:

    I have to believe that the citizens of Pakistan are quietly cheering in the streets that this campaign of beheading radical Islam is keeping them relatively safe, despite the inability of Pak security forces to do so.
    I wish we had better public opinion info, because in their place I would be rooting my butt off for America to kill every last one of their leadership. That has to be currying a lot of favor among the Pakistani population.

  • Bing says:

    Why do I feel like keeping Waziristan a terrorist stronghold is a good thing for the US in the long run?
    If we could only tighten the borders around it, it would make a nice little prison where we are free to kill them one by one.
    Better then arresting them only to release them in a few years after fattening them up with some good food.

  • BraddS says:

    The whole reason for the terrorists’ obsessive/compulsive need for absolute secrecy about everything seems to be so the world can’t determine how badly they are hurting, so they can maintain the fiction of an intact, unstoppable, cohesive organization. Vital to their recruiting and financing efforts I guess…

  • Ammo Guy says:

    On a certain level, I don’t care whether this program has been “successful” in discouraging other terrorists because it certainly “discouraged” the ones who go to pieces. It reminds me of the argument concerning the death penalty and whether it acts as a general deterrent to murder…which is unprovable, but it certainly acts as a specific deterrent to the individual being fried. There has never been a case of an executed criminal committing another crime – a 100% success rate as far as I’m concerned…or to put it another way – a 0% recidivism rate! So, keep the Hellfires burning and keep the bastards off balance – works for me.

  • TimSln says:

    Mr T
    It seems the drone strikes are seriously disrupting al-Qaeda’s command, control and operations. Here is a report on recent comments by CIA Director Panetta:
    Aggressive attacks against al-Qaeda in Pakistan’s tribal region have driven Osama bin Laden and his top deputies deeper into hiding and disrupted their ability to plan sophisticated operations, CIA Director Leon Panetta said Wednesday.
    So profound is al-Qaeda’s disarray that one of its lieutenants, in a recently intercepted message, pleaded with bin Laden to come to the group’s rescue and provide some leadership, Panetta said. He credited improved coordination with Pakistan’s government and what he called “the most aggressive operation that CIA has been involved in in our history,” offering a near-acknowledgment of what is officially a secret war.
    “Those operations are seriously disrupting al-Qaeda,” Panetta said. “It’s pretty clear from all the intelligence we are getting that they are having a very difficult time putting together any kind of command and control, that they are scrambling. And that we really do have them on the run.”

  • Mr T says:

    That also is a near acknowledgment that Bin Laden is still alive.

  • tyrone says:

    Good thinking in the comments thread. Just a note, I really appreciate all that Mr. Roggio is doing with the LWJ and feel fortunate to have this source of unbiased and detailed news about the war. I recently contributed and notice that the fund raising is going slowly the past month or so.
    I encourage all who read this thread to contribute to the LWJ if you have not done so recently. $10, $50, or $100 from 100 people would help. We just need to, each of us, be one of those 100. I see it as a minimal thank you to Mr. Roggio and indirectly to those with their lives on the line every day.

  • The_Pacifist says:

    “There has never been a case of an executed criminal committing another crime – a 100% success rate as far as I’m concerned…or to put it another way – a 0% recidivism rate!”
    What if the executed “criminal” didn’t commit the crime in the first place? Isn’t that the real issue? But I digress…

  • steve m. says:

    I just watched the video of the 5 americans arrested in pakistan, and it looks like they are getting a heroe’s welcome. i would love to know who they are hugging.

  • Ammo Guy says:

    “What if the executed “criminal” didn’t commit the crime in the first place? Isn’t that the real issue? But I digress…”
    Yeah, I knew that line would get someone’s panties in a wad…and I know Bill will likely nuke this conversation, but I was at the Pentagon on 9/11 and none of those victims committed a crime either. Ironically, it is the actions of their friends and comrades in response to this outrage that allow shirkers like you to indulge in your “pacifism” – enjoy your good fortune while others bleed.

  • The_Pacifist says:

    “Yeah, I knew that line would get someone’s panties in a wad…”-That’s a personal attack, and not a very original one, I might add. You’re ignoring the issue I raised, which is there is no justice in executing innocent people.
    “I know Bill will likely nuke this conversation”- Probably.
    “I was at the Pentagon on 9/11”-It has nothing to do with the issue. Are you appealing to authority to support your argument?
    “None of those victims committed a crime either.”-Agreed, but it doesn’t give us the right to execute innocent people too. If it does, then we are no better, but I believe we are better and we know better.
    “Ironically, it is the actions of their friends and comrades in response to this outrage that allow shirkers like you to indulge in your “pacifism”- Again, another personal attack. You are still ignoring the issue, and jumping to conclusions. How can you reasonably say I’m a shirker? How can you possibly know. If you make that statement without knowing, then I question your credibility. How many other statements like that do you make without really “knowing” what you are talking about?
    “enjoy your good fortune while others bleed.”- You are jumping to conclusions. Again, you don’t know if it is true or not.
    No offense, but hopefully you weren’t too involved in any analysis at the Pentagon which required formulating a coherent argument because you appear to need improvement in that area.

  • Ammo Guy says:

    Well, I’m amazed that Bill has let this discussion proceed at all which is why I didn’t bother to waste a lot of time on my original response to your post. And, I suppose your choice of moniker had a lot to do with my riposte…you “pacifists” are such a sensitive lot. I’ll be on the lookout for more of your brilliant insights in the future in this august forum – we Pentagon types could always use a fresh perspective.

  • rational enquirer says:

    Dear Pacifist,
    Re your allegation that the drone strikes are wrong because they kill innocent victims: in the 22 drone strikes reported in Pakistan this year, zero civilian casualties have been reported. For last year’s strikes, the ratio of civilians-to-terrorists killed was less than 1 in 10.
    You seem to forget that we are at war. These terrorist camps in Pakistan are not about playing tiddlywinks, they are engaged in waging violent jihad against the West and its allies, by any means, including suicide bombing, beheading, torture, kidnapping, and more. They have no compunctions about using children and mentally disabled persons as human bombs.
    If you are truly concerned about the loss of innocent lives in the war on terror, look at the deaths deliberately caused by the terrorists; in Pakistan and Afghanistan alone in the past year they have far outstripped the accidental deaths caused by Western forces.

  • Greg says:

    rational enquirer:
    Can you please point out where I alleged that the drone strikes are wrong because they kill innocent victims? I never made this allegation. I just reviewed my comments in this thread to make sure, and I did not once mention the casualties from any drone strikes. If you believe I did, please point out where.
    Again, if you read what I posted in response to Ammo Guy, you can see that my comments were directed to, or meant to be directed to, his statement that “there has never been a case of an executed criminal committing another crime”

  • BraddS says:

    Dear Pacifist,
    I have been reading your posts, and you seem to have a basic lack of understanding of formal logic theory. I suggest a college level course in Logical Syllogisms. You might then realize every one of your arguments is provably false. Maybe then you can get back to answering the basic questions on the table. Your initial premise that we are executing civilians is false. Civilians dying in a war as a result of enemy engagement is not execution, and your attempt to paint it as such is an ad miseracordium argument, and thus false. Your continued insistence that this proves that our efforts in AFPAK are wrong is therefore flawed. You might want to confirm your qualifications for us before belittling someone who has devoted his life to protecting your right to say whatever you want.

  • JRP says:

    In the end, wars such as the present one on AQ terrorism, pit the wills to survive and the instincts to survive of the warring parties up against one another. Being unable to defend yourself and being unwilling to defend yourself are two different things. “Suicide” is the logical extension of any pacifist’s argument, because to adhere to that argument means throwing up our hands and, in effect, saying: “OK, you win, we surrender ’cause to defend ourselves would result in collateral damage to you and that would be morally wrong. We would prefer that you intentionally kill our innocents rather than risking that we might accidentally kill your innocents.”

  • Meremortal says:

    @The Pacifist
    As a pacifist, you are willing to live or die under the yoke of whoever brings force against you. You are a chained lamb in a den of predators. We will keep you alive, but we will ignore your attempts to have us join you under the yoke of oppression.
    You may answer that we are just as bad as the others, since we kill. This is true only in your twisted mind, but you are free to think it, and to say it. Enjoy your freedom, which only exists due to our protection of you. If you disdain our protection, you may remove yourself from it. That’s OK with us too.

  • BraddS says:

    Sorry, didn’t mean to jump all over you, I really do want to hear what you have to say. However, I don’t think line-by-line rebuttals are going to help us move forward. The simple, horrifying truth seems to be that we haven’t yet killed enough, not that we’re killing too many. I can’t stand it either, but that’s the reality of it, and luckily for people like you and I, there are people on our side willing to do it so we can safely sit here stateside and criticize it.

  • Greg says:

    “I have been reading your posts, and you seem to have a basic lack of understanding of formal logic theory.”

  • Fred P says:

    Dear Pacifist,
    What do you advocate to end the killing?

  • Greg says:

    No worries. I think there’s confusion over exactly what I was commenting on, which is the death penalty in the U.S. As mentioned by Ammo Guy. I think that my comments were being applied to what’s going on in Afg. And Pak., which was not my intent.
    And I do agree that we are lucky to live under the protection of our military, and people like Ammo Guy. My comments, questions, insights, or lack thereof, aren’t meant to show a lack of appreciation.
    I listed items point by point to try to organize things and avoid further confusion.

  • Peacock says:

    I can see why this thread has not been deleted: the argument, while only tangentially relevant to this forum, is constructive.
    Pacifist: I, for one, have a visceral negative reaction when I see someone using the nickname “Pacifist”. At face value it is a noble condition to promote and, toward that end, use to describe oneself. But, we are all aware of the pejorative nature of this title due to its use, often in bad faith, by those inherently and often irrationally opposed to all things military, including service members.
    Considering the setting, and how intelligent you obviously are, you surely realized that your nickname would be provocative and invite the likelihood that some would conflate your nickname with your viewpoint(s).
    In that way, your approach appears self indulgent, much like playing devil’s advocate is: daring people to make assumptions and chiding them when they take the bait.
    Also, your approach of alternating rejoinders with affirmations of agreement appears more like rhetorical gamesmanship than good faith argument.
    If your intent is to argue your position in good faith, your should state your own position clearly instead of implying it, however obviously, through rhetorical questioning.
    My guess is that you are arguing in good faith. You are very skilled and have valid and convincing positions to argue. But, without offering a clear position for others to examine, and not sharing the burden of defense, you seem more like a gadfly than an honest counterpart in debate.
    This is my take on how this appears. I make no assumptions of knowing your motives and apologize if I neglected to include enough qualifiers to make that clear.

  • Ammo Guy says:

    We’ve probably exhausted this thread, but as a last word – there is no record of an innocent individual actually being executed in the USA…and, please, I don’t want to hear about Sacco and Vanzetti or Bruno Hauptmann or the Rosenbergs, et al.

  • Bungo says:

    By the way, there is NO recorded incident of the USA executing an innocent person. Convicted : yes, Executed : no

  • Ammo Guy says:

    There was more to this case than a botched arson investigation to include all sorts of confessions and other testimony. Hardly the definitive example of an innocent man being executed, at this point – after his “work” on OJ’s case, I don’t trust anything coming from Barry Scheck.

  • ArneFufkin says:

    @blacktiger. I’ve seen many opponents of the death penalty point to the Willingham execution as exhibit A to bolster their position but I think calling it a “documented instance of wrongful execution” is highly debatable and suspect on the facts. Here is perhaps the best overview I’ve read on the case:
    To a larger point, it’s always regrettable when non-combatants die in war but I KNOW that we do everything we can to mitigate that event.

  • FedCop says:

    And here I thought this was a good non biased source of information and dialog. Can we get back to commenting on the “wackin & stackin”.

  • BraddS says:

    I agree, Fed. I am interested in the “You can/can’t kill your way to victory” debate. It seems like the Tamil Tigers raised the question 20 years ago and the Sri Lankan army recently settled it. It took 20 years, exceptional planning, iron will and determination, careful purchases of some excellent military equipment from China, public support(?), and strategy by the Sri Lankan army, but they finally dislodged then maneuvered Prabakhan (sp?) into a kill zone, separated him from his civilian shields, and annhilated him and his top commanders. Only then did the violence FINALLY end for everyone.

  • Ammo Guy says:

    Yeah, my apologies for starting this whole mess, but to come full circle back to my original point – are we creating more enemies whenever we hit them from above with our drones = I don’t care anymore, but I do know that when we reach a “pieces agreement” with a particular terrorist, he doesn’t bother us anymore.

  • This US stike in Waziristan was a success! This is the first time I read a news that shows there are many terrorist casualites than civilians. I adhere to any form of pacifism but looking at the tragedy done by terrorists against innocent civilians not only in Afganistan and Pakistan, I could only imagine that the 9/11 is good for them.

  • blacktiger says:

    Ammo Guy, no worries. I think we’ve all been able to learn learned a few things from this exchange.
    Going back to the subject at hand, there’s an article in the “News on the web” section titled “Under Pannetta, a more agressive CIA” Of note is the article’s first section, which provides a bit of detail regarding the process of making the executive decision to shoot the missile that killed Baitullah Mehsud.

  • BraddS says:

    BT, thank you so much for that link! Is this our turning point? Anyone seeing similarities with the Lincoln appointment of Grant during the Civil War, or SHAEF appointing Ike during WWII?


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