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.”
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