The latest from the Pakistan rumor mill is that Nasir al Wuhayshi, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s top leader, was killed in a Dec. 28, 2010 Predator strike in North Waziristan. From The Associated Press (CNN-IBN is also reporting this):
Nasir al Wahishi, a Yemeni national who reportedly served as an aide of al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden, was killed in a U.S. drone attack in northwestern Pakistan late last year, Pakistani security officials said Sunday.
The officials, who sought anonymity, said Wahishi, 32, was killed on Dec. 28 when two missiles were fired on a militant camp at the Ghulam Khan sub-district of North Waziristan.
The officials claimed Wahishi had served as personal assistant of bin Laden until 2000.
There are plenty of reasons to doubt this report. First, my sources don’t believe he was killed in this strike.
Second, read this Threat Matrix entry posted a few minutes earlier today on the rumor of the death of Qari Hussain Mehsud, for the reasons why we should view reports from Pakistani officials on the deaths of Taliban/al Qaeda leaders with great skepticism (to sum it up, they have a terrible track record) and should wait for confirmation from the terrorists themselves.
Third, Pakistani officials claimed that Fahd al Quso, another top AQAP leader, was killed in a Predator strike in North Waziristan (note: Mohammed Albasha, the Press Attache for the Yemeni Embassy in Washington, even touted these reports in an email to me back in October 2010). But Quso quashed that rumor when he granted a press interview, from Yemen, in December 2010. Quso denied ever going to North Waziristan.
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