Jordanian al Qaeda fighter killed in US airstrike in eastern Afghanistan

During a clash in eastern Afghanistan, US troops killed a Jordanian al Qaeda operative who was “a frequent visitor” of jihadist web forums.

A martyrdom statement for Mahmoud Hamdan Nizal, who was known as Abu Dher al Urduni, was published by a member of the Shumukh al-Islam forum, which is frequented by members of al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. The statement was released on June 12, 2011 and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.

Nizal was from the Jordanian city of Zarqa, the home town of slain al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi.

According to the statement, Nizal was killed during US air and artillery strikes in the Bermel district of Paktika province “where the lions of al Qaeda were in an operation against a base belonging to the Crusaders.” The date of Nizal’s death was not disclosed. The Haqqani Network and al Qaeda have carried out several major attacks on US forces in Bermel over the past several years [see list below].

Nizal was “preparing rockets to launch at the filthy base of the Crusaders” when he and his team were discovered by US troops, who launched a counterattack. “Then, an American F-16 fired a rocket that fell between him and an Afghan brother who was with the brothers in the operation,” the statement said. The “Afghan brother” was wounded in the attack.

The jihadist claimed that Nizal’s last words called for the continuation of fighting until Shariah, or Islamic law, was imposed worldwide.

“Do not feel sad, O Nazir! Either Shariah or martyrdom!,” Nizal said, according to the jihadist. “It is a Khorasani slogan that means either the institution of Shariah on Earth or martyrdom in the Cause of Allah, Glorified and Exalted be He.”

Before his death, Nizal was “preoccupied with training the brothers” and “was a frequent visitor of our blessed jihadi forums.”

Nizal is the latest Jordanian terrorist killed while fighting for al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. The most infamous, Abu Dujanah al Khurasani, a longtime internet jihadi whose real name is Humam Khalil Muhammed Abu Mulal al Balawi, carried out the Dec. 30, 2009 suicide attack at Combat Outpost Chapman in Khost province that killed seven CIA officials and contractors, and a Jordanian intelligence officer. Khurasani was recruited by Jordanian intelligence to provide targeting information for the US’ covert air campaign against al Qaeda’s leaders and operations in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Khurasani had enticed the CIA with promises of being able to produce Ayman al Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s second in command, and then detonated a suicide vest once he was granted access to the base.

Salahuddin al Maqdisi, the brother of radical Jordanian Islamist cleric Abu Mohammed al Maqdisi and a former aide to slain al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi, is currently in Afghanistan, according to a statement released on a jihadist website.

Paktika province is a known al Qaeda haven

Al Qaeda and allied groups maintain a presence in Paktika province, according to an investigation by The Long War Journal. US military press releases document the presence of al Qaeda and “foreign fighter” cells in the districts of Wor Mamay, Yahya Khel, Yosuf Khel, Zadran, and Ziruk; or five of Paktika’s 18 districts. The US military uses the term “foreign fighters” to describe al Qaeda and allied terror groups from outside of Afghanistan.

The Taliban and the Haqqani Network, a Taliban subgroup that is close to al Qaeda and is strong in Paktika, have carried out three major assaults against US outposts in Bermel since 2008. In November 2008, US forces killed 16 enemy fighters as they assaulted Combat Outpost Margah.

In the fall of 2010, the Haqqani Network launched two major massed suicide assaults on COP Margah over the span of two months. On Sept. 2, US forces killed 20 Haqqani Network fighters. On Oct. 31, US forces killed 78 Haqqani Network and foreign fighters while repelling a massive attack. The Haqqani Network assault team was backed by fighters from al Qaeda as well as the Taliban.

Recent clashes with al Qaeda fighters in the east and raids against the terror group contradict claims that al Qaeda has only 50 to 100 operatives in Afghanistan [see LWJ report, Al Qaeda leader and bin Laden associate captured in northern Afghanistan]. These claims have been made by top US intelligence and military leaders, including most recently by General David Petraeus, the commander of ISAF.

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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  • CC says:

    If these people are posting on online forums this often there must be a way to infiltrate and conduct surveillance via cyber warfare. I’m sure that you wouldn’t be able to find any relevant operational details but it should be possible to atleast track these people to certain locations.
    I’ve always heard that these e-jihadists use internet cafes but I wonder if they do or do not frequent the same locations.

  • Paul D says:

    The areas bordering Pakistan must be truly equipped/ enough man power for us to win in Afghanistan!
    We need the insurgents to be afraid/scared of entering Afghan from their safe havens in Pakistan.

  • Mirage says:

    Another one bites the dust!

  • kp says:

    I’m pretty sure the smart ones use Tor as a proxy. Unlike the TV shows it takes serious effort (like setting up a lot of exit ports for Tor and injecting Javascript or Flash or Java code which a poorly set up Tor system will use) it’s very, very difficult to track them.

  • CC says:

    Hey thanks for the insight KP. It just makes me wonder how these Chinese hackers can infiltrate Lockheed Martin but we can’t (presumably) find a way to take on these web jihadists. Perhaps most of them simply arent worth our resources. I would imagine that the vast majority of people posting on those forums would be considered low level militants. Regardless, I still think it would be a good idea to take these forums down through denial of service or something similar. Though on the flipside I suppose monitoring those forums give us some degree of insight.

  • Don Vandervelde says:

    Hey, guys, I hate to be an old bore, but the time to take N. Waz., with Indian mountain troops’ assistance is here. So is the time to offer the Baluchs independence from the Paks for their aid in transporting supplies to the Afghans and harassing Iran. Let’s get this decade of war over, and then, with notice to the civilized nations, resign as the world policeman. Cheers, Don V.


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