Palestinian al Qaeda operative reported killed in Afghanistan


Mahmud Abu Rideh.

A Palestinian member of al Qaeda who was jailed in the United Kingdom after the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States is reported to have been killed in a US airstrike in Afghanistan. The report has not been confirmed.

Mahmud Abu Rideh, a Palestinian from Khan Younis, is reported to have been killed by the US military in a recent airstrike in Afghanistan, according to Flashpoint Intel, a consulting company that tracks jihadist propaganda and terrorists networks. Jihadist forums posted a martyrdom statement announcing Abu Rideh’s death, Flashpoint Intel‘s Evan Kohlmann told The Long War Journal.

US military and intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal would neither confirm nor deny the reports of Abu Rideh’s death. It is not clear if Abu Rideh has even left Britain.

Abu Rideh arrived in Britain with his family in 1995 and was granted asylum in 1998. He was detained along with several suspected jihadists by the British government in December 2001 for having links to al Qaeda. At the time, David Blunkett, Britain’s Home Secretary, accused Rideh of being “an active supporter of various terrorist groups, including those with links to Osama bin Ladin’s terrorist network.”

British authorities detained Abu for four years at the Belmarsh prison as the government attempted to deport him to Jordan, where he was born. At one point he was transferred to “Broadmoor hospital near London, a top security unit which houses some of Britain’s most dangerous mentally ill criminals,” Al Jazeera reported in January 2005.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International took up Abu Rideh’s case and sought to block his deportation to Jordan due to fears he would be tortured by Jordan’s General Intelligence Department.

In 2004, Britain’s highest court ruled that the emergency laws that allowed the government to hold Abu Rideh violated his human rights, and ordered his release. In March 2005, Abu Rideh was released from prison but was subject to a “control order,” a form of house arrest which restricted his movements and allowed him to be monitored.

In July 2009, Abu Rideh, with the help of Amnesty International, succeeded in having the control order lifted. Amnesty International then sought to have his overseas travel restrictions lifted.

Abu Rideh granted an interview with Iran’s PressTV in August 2009. In the interview, Abu Rideh repeatedly claimed he had been abused and tortured by British police and intelligence officials. He also denied having any links to al Qaeda.

The US military routinely targets and kills al Qaeda commanders and operatives in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda often releases propaganda statements announcing their deaths. In late October, al Qaeda announced the death of five veteran jihadi commanders.

Al Qaeda’s extensive reach in Afghanistan is documented not only by al Qaeda’s propaganda statements, but in the body of press releases issued in recent years by the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. Looking at press releases dating back to March 2007, The Long War Journal has been able to detect the presence of al Qaeda and affiliated groups such as the Islamic Jihad Union in 62 different districts in 19 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces.

This picture of an extensive al Qaeda presence in Afghanistan contradicts statements made by top Obama administration intelligence officials, including CIA Director Leon Panetta and National Counterterrorism Center Director Michael Leiter. Last spring, Panetta and Leiter claimed that only 50 to 100 al Qaeda operatives are active in Afghanistan. Administration officials have since ceased making such claims.

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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  • Texas Tom says:

    No way, a guy supported by Amnesty International turned out to be a terrorist? Had they not interceded, he would be alive today. Great job hastening his demise, AI.

  • Graham says:

    So if there’s not 50-100 in Afghanistan (Leon Panetta) and 300 in Pakistan (Michael Lehter) then what is your
    direct estimate for how many Al Qaeda operatives there are in the two countries?

  • Robbie says:

    It’s sad to watch Amnesty International continuously fail to see the big picture and vigorously work against the better good in regards to the war on terror. If there are more terror attacks in the West, it would be interesting to see how Amnesty International responds if members of their own organization were among the victims. Would their head remain inside their rear end or would AI pull its head out and begin to see the world more clearly in broad daylight?

  • Render says:

    Graham – My own estimate is between 8,000 and 15,000 total al-Q members. Between 50,000 and 150,000 Taliban members depending on the season.
    That estimate includes various groups and individuals whose morale, loyalties, and objectives may shift on a day to day basis. (LeT as an example remains focused on India, but does (documented) provide manpower to both the Taliban and al-Q for operations inside of Afghanistan and elsewhere).
    That estimate is also not seperated by the Durand Line, as I don’t think the Taliban/al-Q knows itself how many people it has operational inside Afghanistan or nations other then Pakistan at any one time.
    Those estimates were done last Spring and do not include any enemy losses since then.
    Note that al-Q’s Black Guard alone reportedly has more fighters in it then either Panetta or Lehter’s guesses, combined.
    I don’t speak for Mr. Roggio and these are NOT the official Long War Journal estimates or numbers, although I suspect those are fairly close to mine.

  • xavier says:

    Should AI members be victims of attacks in Europe/US the head will go deeper inside their rear. Similar to religious folk seeing it as “test to their faith in what they believe”.
    If AI is conducive to reason they would have seen the world in broad daylight long time ago.


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