More on the death of Bekkay Harrach


Bekkay Harrach, who is also known as Al Hafidh Abu Talha al Almani, in an al Qaeda propaganda video.

In the Comments section of the LWJ report on the death of al Qaeda/Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan leader Bekkay Harrach, some readers speculated that the IMU is being deliberately misleading about how he died (the IMU claimed he died in a suicide assault at Bargram in Afghanistan). The theory goes that Harrach actually died in a Predator strike in North Waziristan (as was rumored last fall) but the IMU wanted to assign a more fitting death to Harrach, that dying in a Predator strike was somehow a shameful death.

My response to the theory was that while this is possible, al Qaeda, the Taliban, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and other terror groups based in the tribal area have not shied away from announcing the deaths of top leaders in Predator strikes. Among those are:

  • Mustafa Abu Yazid (the leader of al Qaeda in the Khorasan and its top financial official)
  • Abu Laith al Libi (the revered military commander of Brigade 055)
  • Saleh al Somali (the leader of al Qaeda’s external operations network)
  • Abdullah Said al Libi (the leader of al Qaeda’s Lashkar al Zil, or Shadow Army)
  • Baitullah Mehsud (the leader of the Pakistani Taliban)
  • Abu Khabab al Masri (al Qaeda’s top bomb maker and WMD chief)
  • Abu Jihad al Masri (the leader of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and al Qaeda’s top intelligence officer)
  • Qari Zafar (the leader of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi)
  • Tahir Yuldashev (the leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan)

The list goes on.

And, perhaps more interesting, in the statement announcing Harrach’s death, the IMU identifies two of its operatives who were killed in a Predator strike in North Waziristan [from the translation of the IMU statement]:

But not only the pathways to jihad remain open, also the gates to Shahada [martyrdom], which recently opened for many brothers and sisters, several German Mujahidin among them. They died the death of the Shahid [martyr] and their souls traveled on this way to their Lord as wishes every Mujahid. One of them was our beloved brother Shihab [Dashti], alias Abu Askar. On 4 October 2010, accompanied by four other Mujahidin, the fate befell him that is predetermined for each creature. Abu Askar, our honest friend, died together with the German-Turkish brother Imran, who had been here no longer than four weeks, and three brothers of the Pakistani Taliban from Mehsud. All five of them sat together for a meal, when one of those perfidious US drones fired a rocket into the middle of their blessed circle. Alhamdulillah [praise be to God], our brother Abu Askar received what he longed for so much. And now he is lying there, a Hamburg Mujahid buried in Waziristan.

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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  • jayc says:

    Bill, you are absolutely correct in your observation that Al Qaeda and others have no problem eulogizing leaders slain in a US drone strike, and if I have offended you, I most humbly apologize.
    Having served in the military and having had a sensitive posting, I know that not only our country, but other entities and organizations have a propensity for ’embellishing’ accomplishments. I just felt that in this case I couldn’t take the IMU at its word, and I personally wouldn’t allow a person of his stature to lead a raid that was high risk with little guaranteed return.
    I honestly felt that he died in a drone strike. According to your article, his announcement was coupled in a statement regarding other German expatriates. Wasn’t Askar the one you wrote about previously that showed him holding a huge machete?
    Thanks, again. I enjoy reading your columns.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Absolutely no offense taken on this end, and I hope the same for you. Honestly I wrote this because I think the discussion we & kp had was interesting and was worth putting a little more light on this/sharing with a wider readership. Unfortunately I can’t always engage in the comments due to time constraints. But this was an interesting and instructional thread that I felt had value beyond the comments section.
    I want to be clear that I think it is possible that Harrach was killed in a Predator strike, however if the IMU is lying about it, I just don’t think it is because they are ashamed of it. Given who has been praised for being killed in Predator strikes, I think the reason to obscure his death would be something other than shame at the cause of death.
    One thing I’ve detected on the martyrdom statements is that while they may embellish facts/events, I’ve yet to see one used to lie or deceive about the nature of the death. There certainly is a first time for everything.
    Yes I did write about Abu Askar last fall, he was Mr Ginsu.


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