A seasoned al Qaeda operative from Yemen was among several terrorists killed in a US raid along the Afghan-Pakistani border last month.
The al Qaeda operative was identified as Abu Abdulrahman al Qahtani, a veteran jihadist from Yemen, according to a martyrdom statement released on the Al Faloja Forum, a website frequented by al Qaeda supporters. He was killed along with “a number of brothers” in “the land of Khorasan” on “the night of the Eid,” or Nov. 16. The Khorasan is a region that encompasses large areas of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Iran.
The statement announcing Qahtani’s death was released in Arabic and translated by Flashpoint Partners, a website that monitors jihadist media. The statement was not released through an official al Qaeda outlet but is “very credible,” Flashpoint Partners’ Evan Kohlmann told The Long War Journal.
“Al Qahtani was an active user on the Faloja forum,” Kohlamnn said. “He used to post updates from the frontlines about Arab mujahideen fighters in AFPAK [the Afghanistan-Pakistan region].”
Qahtani was 45 years old when he was killed. He was a veteran of the wars in Afghanistan, and fought for “decades” on “the fields of jihad.” Qahtani fought against the Soviet Union in the 1980s, and returned to battle the Americans after the invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001.
Qahtani was a close associate of al Qaeda operatives Ghazwan al Yemeni, Abu Dujanah al Sanaani, and Abu Dujanah al Khurasani.
Abu Dujanah al Khurasani, who is also known as Humam Khalil Muhammed Abu Mulal al Balawi, carried out the suicide attack against the CIA at Combat Outpost Chapman in Khost province on Dec. 30, 2009, that killed seven CIA operatives and a Jordanian intelligence officer. Khurasani, a Jordanian, had enticed the CIA with promises of being able to produce Ayman al Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s second in command. Khurasani, like Qahtani, was a longtime internet jihadi.
Ghazwan al Yemeni, who is also known as Sadam Hussein Al Hussami, was a top operative in al Qaeda’s external operations network. He aided in the devastating suicide attack on Combat Outpost Chapman. Ghazwan was killed in a US Predator strike in North Waziristan, Pakistan, on March 8.
Abu Dujanah al Sanaani, also a Yemeni and an Internet jihadist, is known to have operated the Al Balagh Media Center, a terrorist propaganda outlet. In March 2010, Sanaani conducted an interview with Siraj Haqqani, the leader of the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network, who operates on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border. Sanaani has not previously been reported killed, but the recent statement on the Al Faloja Forum indicated that Qahtani has joined Saanani, Ghazwan, and Khurasani “in the afterlife.”
Al Qaeda often announces the deaths of its senior and mid-level leaders. In late October, in a statement released on the Internet, al Qaeda announced the death of five veteran operatives.
The US has been targeting al Qaeda on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border. In Pakistan, the Predator campaign has killed scores of top-level al Qaeda leaders and military and terrorist commanders since the campaign began in 2004.
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