Was al Qaeda’s leader of Pakistan killed in the South Waziristan Predator strike?

According to a tweet on Evan Kohlmann’s @IntelTweet Twitter site, al Qaeda’s leader for Pakistan was among those killed in the June 2 Predator strike that killed Ilyas Kashmiri:

Flashpoint analysts in Pak have learned that the top leader of Al-Qaida in Pakistan, Ahmad Faruq, was killed in the same strike as Kashmiri.

That was followed by another tweet, stating that Ahmad Faruq’s death was confirmed by a spokesman for the Harkat ul Jihad-i-Islami (Brigade 313):

The death of Faruq, the official leader of Al-Qaida’s franchise in Pakistan, was reported by a spokesman for Kashmiri’s “313 Brigade.”

There are two points to discuss here: Is Ahmad Faruq al Qaeda’s leader for Pakistan, and was he killed in the strike?

First, it is unclear if al Qaeda has a single leader for all of Pakistan. Ahmad Faruq is known to be a top al Qaeda leader in Pakistan (in fact he is al Qaeda’s spokesman/propaganda chief for Pakistan). Matiur Rahman, the man who holds al Qaeda’s “rolodex,” has also been described as al Qaeda’s leader for Pakistan. And after bin Laden’s death, a report in The News stated that Abdul Shakoor Turkistani was appointed as al Qaeda’s leader for Pakistan:

Mohammed Adam Khan Al-Afghani was appointed the operational chief of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Waziristan while Abdul Shakoor Turkistani, the chief of the Turkistan Islamic Party, was made the chief of the group’s operations in Pakistan. Afghani and Turkistani will be working in tandem with Fahd al-Iraqi who currently operates from the Pak-Afghan border.

The report in The News tracks with a recent report that Turkistani took control of al Qaeda’s forces based in the tribal areas sometime in April 2011 [see LWJ report, Al Qaeda appoints new leader of forces in Pakistan’s tribal areas].

Second, it is unclear if the Ahmad Faruq killed in the strike is the same Ahmad Faruq who is known to be a senior al Qaeda leader. Ahmad Faruq is a fairly common name. And the reports that list him as being killed name him as “Farooq Ahmad.” The first report surfaced yesterday; an unnamed HUJI official listed “Farooq Ahmad” among several HUJI fighters killed in the strike. From Geo News:

Revealing the names of those killed in US missile attack, he said Mohammed Ibrahim, Farooq Ahmed, Ameer Hamzah, Mohammed Usman, Mohammed Nauman, Imran, Abdul Quddos and another person whose name could not be ascertained were killed in the attack.

In a later report at The News, a senior HUJI commander named Qari Mohammad Idrees confirmed that Kashmiri was killed and also listed “Farooq Ahmad” among those killed. Idrees did not single out Farooq Ahmad as being a senior terrorist commander, however:

The militant commander said that besides Ilyas Kashmiri, 13 other people, mostly hailing from various areas in Punjab such as Dera Ghazi Khan, Faisalabad, Lahore and Jhang were killed in the attack.

He said some of the slain militants belonged to Dera Ismail Khan and Peshawar in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa while another two were from Mir Ali in North Waziristan who had accompanied Ilyas Kashmiri to Wana.

Some of the slain militants were identified as Ameer Hamza, Mohammad Ibrahim, Mohammad Usman, Mohammad Nauman, Farooq Ahmad, Qari Abdul Qudoos and Mohammad Imran.

It certainly is possible that Farooq Ahmad is the same person as al Qaeda leader Ahmad Faruq. At the moment, there are no other reports of his death, nor has al Qaeda announced that he was killed.


Evan Kohlmann emails:

I can’t say that I’m 100% confident that Farooq is dead, but the 313 guys specifically stated “Ustadz Ahmed Farooq” — in other words, dead or alive, there isn’t much question that they were referring to the Pak Al-Qaida leader of As-Sahab fame.

That’s a very good sign that Friday’s strike in South Waziristan hit al Qaeda hard. And another sign that Mullah Nazir continues to host top al Qaeda leaders (he claims he is one after all) despite the Pakistani view that he is a so-called “good Taliban.”

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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  • Tyler says:

    I believe Kohlmann is referring to Ustad Ahmad Farooq, variously reported to be a top Al Qaeda commander/media emir for Pakistan. Showed up a lot in the past year in As Sahab releases. With one news report saying he’d recently become the top dog for Al Qaeda in Pakistan.

  • Mirage says:

    I sure hope these reports are true. Every single person like this is the devil. Turning people on their own kind, using little children as suicide bombers, it’s just sad and pathetic now. But i have new for you guys, The bad guys always loose!

  • Keith says:

    The roman spelling of just about anything in an Arabic script (particularly names) is just about whatever the writer wishes to choose. I’ve seen Qaddafi spelled Quedafi, Gaddafi, Kadhafi, and on and on. Its pretty much anything goes with these names.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Tyler, That is correct. I received an email from Evan and updated the entry at the end. I did note in the post originally that Ahmad Faruq was AQ Pak’s propaganda chief.

  • kp says:

    One is reminded of report back in January 2011 of comments made by Ustad Ahmad Farooq


    ISLAMABAD, Jan 27: A purported Al Qaeda leader [Ustad Ahmad Farooq] says the group is losing territory and fighters amid a US drone strike campaign, according to an audio message monitored by a US organisation that tracks militant propaganda.

    It’s literally true for him now.

    Given Ustad Ahmad Farooq’s comments on jihad in Pakistan (against the government) I’m sure the Pakistanis wanted him dead too. Another hint that this strike was made with the assistance of the “good” ISI (perhaps we should distinguish them like the Pakistani’s distinguish the “good” and “bad” Taliban?).

  • Samah says:

    I love the idea of applying negative or positive modifiers toreferences to the Pak security services.

  • Charu says:

    I’m sorry, but adding qualifiers to the ISI makes as much sense as their attempt to similarly qualify the Taliban. This drone strike episode seems to be a convenient way for the ISI to pretend that the al Qaeda in Pakistan is reeling. It might even provide the excuse that the administration is searching for to get us out of Afghanistan.

  • Charu says:

    As predicted:
    “Steeper Pullout Is Raised as Option for Afghanistan
    President Obama

  • James says:

    Bill, here’s another possibility worth at least considering.
    The strike did target Kashmiri but didn’t kill him. He could be so injured by it though that he is now bed-ridden or hospital-ridden from it at an undisclosed make-shift hospital or ICU.
    Either him and/or his pusillanimous Pakistani handlers are so petrified that we’ll come after him to ‘finish him off’, they’re now helping him to ‘play possum’.
    (You can be certain that what happened to bin laden in Abbottabad is still fresh in their memory.)
    It just seems to me to be so suspicious that their entire response to this strike has been put together in such haste and is so out of the norm for them.


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