The front gate of the Haqqani-run Manba Ulom madrassa in North Waziristan. Photo by The Asia Times.
Friday’s Predator airstrike in North Waziristan killed three Egyptians closely linked to the Haqqani Network. The son of the “Blind Sheikh,” the leader of the Egyptian Islamic Group who is serving a life prison sentence in the US for the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, may have been one of those killed.
The strike, which took place on Oct. 14 in the village of Danda Darpa Khel just outside Miramshah, the main town in North Waziristan, killed three Egyptians and another militant who has not been identified, Pakistani intelligence officials told The Associated Press.
“One of the Egyptians killed Friday was a 28-year-old man named Abdullah who helped handle the Haqqani network’s finances in Pakistan and Afghanistan,” The Associated Press reported. “He was known locally as Nadeem.”
An Afghan Taliban commander told Reuters that Ahmed Omar Abdul Rahman, the son of Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman, or the Blind Sheikh, was one of three Egyptians killed in the Friday Predator strike in North Waziristan. Also killed was the Blind Sheikh’s grandson and another Egyptian. The names of those two Egyptians were not disclosed.
The Egyptian Islamic Group, an al Qaeda affiliate, confirmed that Rahman was killed on Friday, but claimed he “was killed in an American air bombing from an unmanned plane on the frontlines in Afghanistan,” according to a brief statement that was released on the terror group’s website. The statement was translated by the SITE Intelligence Group. [See LWJ report, Blind Sheikh’s son killed in US airstrike in Afghanistan, for more information on Ahmed and the Blind Sheikh, and the family’s connections to terrorist groups.]
If Rahman is confirmed to have been killed in the North Waziristan strike, he will be the second senior terrorist leader killed in the village of Danda Darpa Khel in two days. On Oct. 13, Jan Baz Zadran, the Haqqani Network’s third in command, was killed in a strike in the village.
Jan Baz is the second member of the Haqqani Network’s inner circle to have been killed in Darpa Danda Khel in the past two years. On Feb. 18, 2010, US drones killed Mohammed Haqqani, one of the 12 sons of Jalaluddin Haqqani, the patriarch of the family, in an airstrike in Danda Darpa Khel. Mohammed served as a military commander for the Haqqani Network.
Background on Danda Darpa Khel and its importance to the Haqqani Network
The US has conducted 12 airstrikes in the Haqqani Network-run village of Danda Darpa Khel since September 2008. There have been 272 strikes total in Pakistan’s tribal areas since the program began in 2004.
The village hosts the Manba Ulom madrassa, or religious school, which was established by Jalaluddin Haqqani, the renowned mujahideen commander who has close ties with Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar. In the 1980s, the madrassa was used to train mujahideen to fight the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. After the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the Haqqani family used the Manba Ulom madrassa as a training center and meeting place for senior al Qaeda leaders.
The Pakistani government closed the madrassa down in 2002, but it was reopened in 2004. Since then, Taliban fighters and members of al Qaeda’s network and allied terror groups have been known to take shelter in the madrassa compound.
The US directly targeted the Manba Ulom madrassa in two Predator airstrikes. One strike, on Sept. 8, 2008, is said to have killed two of Jalaluddin’s wives and and several other family members. Also killed were five al Qaeda leaders and operatives, who were identified as Abu Haris al Masri; Ali Abdullah al Jazairi; Abu Hamza; Zain Ul Abu Qasim, an Egyptian; and Abu Walid.
Abu Haris was a senior al Qaeda military commander from Syria who led more than 250 Arab and Afghan fighters under the guise of the Jaish al Mahdi in Helmand province. He became al Qaeda’s operations chief in the tribal areas in 2008. Abu Hamza was an explosives expert from Saudi Arabia who served as al Qaeda’s commander in Peshawar. Abu Musa and al Jazairi were also al Qaeda operatives from Saudi Arabia. Abu Qasim was an operative from Egypt.
For more information on the Haqqani Network and its extensive links with al Qaeda and Pakistan’s military intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, see LWJ report, Haqqani Network commmander killed in airstrike on Pakistan border.
Are you a dedicated reader of FDD's Long War Journal? Has our research benefitted you or your team over the years? Support our independent reporting and analysis today by considering a one-time or monthly donation. Thanks for reading! You can make a tax-deductible donation here.