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.
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.