2 senior al Qaeda leaders killed in recent drone strikes in Pakistan

The US killed two senior al Qaeda leaders, including a member of the terror group’s executive council, in Predator strikes in North Waziristan in mid-October.

The al Qaeda operatives were identified by The Washington Post as Abu Miqdad al Masri and Abd al Rahman al Yemeni. Both operatives were described as “veterans tied to the group’s senior leadership and actively involved in planning operations overseas,” while al Masri was “a former associate of Osama bin Laden.”

A US intelligence official who tracks al Qaeda’s network told The Long War Journal that al Masri was “a member of al Qaeda’s Shura Majlis,” or the executive leadership council.

Al Qaeda has not announced the death of either leader, nor has the terror group released an official martyrdom statement.

The strikes that killed al Masri and al Yemeni took place between Oct. 13 and Oct. 15. During that time period, the US launched two strikes in the village of Danda Darpa Khel in the Miramshah area of North Waziristan and another strike in South Waziristan.

Senior Taliban, Haqqani Network, and al Qaeda leaders killed over the past month

The US has killed several senior al Qaeda, Haqqani Network, and Pakistani Taliban leaders in drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas over the past month. In addition to al Masri and al Yemeni, the two most senior leaders killed this month are Ahmed Omar Abdul Rahman, an al Qaeda leader, and Jan Baz Zadran, a top Haqqani Network leader.

Rahman was a senior al Qaeda operative who was closely linked to the Haqqani Network. He was one of several sons of the ‘Blind Sheikh,’ the spiritual leader of the Egyptian Islamic Group who is in prison in the US for his involvement in the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. Rahman was one of three Egyptians killed on Oct. 14 in Danda Darpa Khel. The Egyptian Islamic Group announced his death on their website.

Jan Baz Zadran, whom US intelligence officials have described as the Haqqani Network’s third in command, was killed in a Predator strike in Danda Darpa Khel on Oct. 13. Jan Baz is the most senior Haqqani Network leader killed or captured in either Pakistan or Afghanistan since the US invaded Afghanistan in 2001. He was killed just two weeks after the Haqqani Network’s top leader in Afghanistan was captured by US Special Operations forces in Paktia province.

Other US strikes in October brought the deaths of six Taliban commanders who served under Mullah Nazir, the so-called “good Taliban” leader in South Waziristan who is favored by the Pakistani military and the government. Five of those were killed in an Oct. 27 strike in the town of Hisokhel in the Azam Warsak area of South Waziristan. Among those killed were Hazrat Omar, one of Nazir’s brothers who served as the group’s operational commander in Afghanistan; Khan Mohammed, a senior deputy; and Miraj Wazir, one of Nasir’s cousins. Haleem Ullah, another of Nazir’s senior deputies, was killed in a strike on Oct. 2.

The variety of leaders killed during the strikes over the past month demonstrates that the US has not focused on one single terror group, but has sought to attack the constellation of allied groups that operate together in the region. The US has stepped up pressure, both verbally and on the battlefield, on the Haqqani Network, because it conducts attacks in Afghanistan and is closely allied to al Qaeda. The Haqqanis are also backed by the Pakistani military and its intelligence service. But over the past month, the strikes have also hit Nazir’s network, al Qaeda, and other groups based in both North and South Waziristan.

Al Qaeda, Taliban, and Haqqani Network leaders killed in North and South Waziristan in October

  • Hazrat Omar, Mullah Nazir’s brother who served as the group’s operational commander in Afghanistan, and Khan Mohammed, a senior deputy to Nazir, were among five leaders killed in a strike in South Waziristan. Two of the other commanders were identified as Miraj Wazir, and Ashfaq Wazir.
  • Abu Miqdad al Masri, a member of al Qaeda’s Shura Majlis, and Abd al Rahman al Yemeni, a senior operative, were killed in strikes in North Waziristan on Oct. 13 and 14.
  • Ahmed Omar Abdul Rahman, a senior al Qaeda operative with ties to the Haqqani Network, was one of three Egyptians killed on Oct. 14 in North Waziristan. Rahman was a son of the ‘Blind Sheikh,’ the spiritual leader of the Egyptian Islamic Group who is in prison in the US for his involvement in the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center.
  • Jan Baz Zadran, whom US intelligence officials described as the Haqqani Network’s third in command, was killed on Oct. 13 in North Waziristan.
  • Haleem Ullah, a deputy to Taliban commander Mullah Nazir, was killed on Sept. 30 in South 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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  • Ranger says:

    Thumbs up

  • Andy says:

    I think this 6 month period of high ranking Al-Qaeda leaders being killed or captured, since the Bin Laden Raid, and Al-Qaeda central not uttering so much as word about most of their killings says a lot. Why? Because it shows the severe strain they are in, too afraid, too on the defensive and too paranoid to make statements. And then look at AQAP, they announced the death of Awlaki in a week. Al-Qaeda central is nowhere to be heard. If we ramp up the pressure in Yemen and Somalia like we’ve been doing in Pakistan since 2004, I think we can substantially reduce the threat of Al-Qaeda and it’s franchises. They must be feeling badly infiltrated right about now. You can’t explain this tempo of high-profile assassinations any other way. Looks like the CIA’s efforts to recruit and nurture spies in the FATA and NWFP is starting to pay off dividends. Of course it only took 8 or 9 years.

  • Devin Leonard says:

    Good!…Our Spec Ops boys and our drones are making quick work of Al Qaida, the Taliban and the Haqqani punks. Sooner or later the Taliban will get desperate and (especially if we take out Mullah Omar) will come crawling to the negotiating table:)


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