An al Qaeda operative wanted by the Saudi government was killed in a recent US airstrike in Afghanistan.
Sa’ad Mohammad al Shahri, a longtime jihadist and the son of a retired Saudi colonel, was killed in an unidentified airstrike in Afghanistan “a few days ago,” Gulf News reported. Al Shahri was “widely believed to have trained young militants in Afghanistan and was an associate of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar of the Hizb-i-Islami party.”
Al Qaeda released a propaganda tape announcing al Shahri’s death, while an anonymous source, presumably a jihadist associate, notified his mother of his death.
The location of the strike that killed al Shahri has not been identified, however the International Security Assistance Force announced that an airstrike in the Korengal Valley in Kunar province on Sept. 25 killed a senior al Qaeda leader named Abdallah Umar al Qurayshi, an “explosives expert” named Abu Atta al Kuwaiti, “and several Arabic foreign fighters.” Shahari may have been one of the unnamed al Qaeda leaders who was meeting with al Qurayshi and al Kuwati.
Al Shahri has been wanted by the Saudi government since June 28, 2005, when he was placed on the list of 36 most wanted terrorists. He was listed as number 19 of 21 operatives “who were involved in domestic incidents” and who “are currently outside the Kingdom,” the Saudi government stated in a press release.
In 1989, when he was 15 years old, al Shahri ran away from home and joined the mujahedeen in Afghanistan to fight the Soviet Union, according to his father, Colonel Mohammad Mubarak Al Jubairi al Shahri.
“After the Russian war in Afghanistan Sa’ad returned to Saudi Arabia, but he was showing some symptoms of mental disease,” Colonel al Shahri told Gulf News. “During his stay of seven years in the Kingdom, he… married and had two children. He later left his family and went again to Afghanistan without telling anyone.” His mother said he also had three sons to an Afghan wife.
• 28th June 2005 – Saudi Interior Ministry Announces Names of Suspected Terrorists, Saudi Interior Ministry statement
• Wanted Saudi killed in Afghan air strike, Gulf News
• ISAF kills senior al Qaeda leader and an IED expert in Kunar strike, The Long War Journal
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.