Al Qaeda releases video of Saudi al Qaeda fighter killed in Waziristan

A jihadist forum has released a video of an al Qaeda fighter from Saudi Arabia who was killed in Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled Waziristan tribal areas in 2009.

Yesterday the al Qaeda-linked al-Fida’ forum posted the video of Abdullah bin Muhsin al Shahri, a Saudi from Riyadh who is also known as Abu Rawaha. He does not appear to be on the list of Saudi Arabia’s most-wanted terrorists. The video was translated by the SITE Intelligence Group, and was also part of al Qaeda’s Diary of a Mujahid series, which is produced by As Sahab, al Qaeda’s media outlet.

According to al Qaeda, Abu Rawaha traveled to “the land of jihad and garrison” – or the Afghan-Pakistani border – sometime between September and October of 2007. He was killed “in Waziristan” in January or February of 2009. It is unclear if he died in a US drone strike or while fighting Pakistani security forces.

Al Qaeda described Abu Rawaha as a “poet,” and the video features him reciting his poetry. In one poem, he discussed “the brothers” who were killed “in Gardez,” an eastern Afghan city which is the capital of Paktia province. Abu Rawaha said that the cell leader, who he identified as Sheikh Abu Salama, was killed with five fighters after being “bombed.”

In Afghanistan, al Qaeda is known to embed small teams of trainers with Taliban and other terrorist groups, and in the east is known to fight on the battlefield in small units. [See LWJ reports, Al Qaeda’s paramilitary ‘Shadow Army’ and ‘Foreign trainers’ active in southeastern Afghan province, for more information on al Qaeda’s role in Afghanistan.] Abu Rawaha appears to be describing one such unit in the video.

Saudis continue to play a significant role in al Qaeda, from its leaders to its fighters, despite the death of Osama bin Laden, himself a Saudi, at the hands of US special operations forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in May 2011.

Abdur Rehman al Saudi was involved in the recent negotiations to create the Shura-e-Murakeba, an alliance of Taliban groups, including the Haqqani Network, along the Afghan-Pakistani border. Abdur Rehman conducted the negotiations along with Abu Yahya al Libi, one of al Qaeda’s top leaders.

Other senior Saudis who operate in the region are Mohammad Abul Khair and Osama bin Laden’s son, Sa’ad. Both are also known to operate from within Iran.

The US has killed several Saudi leaders and fighters in airstrikes along the Afghan-Pakistani border over the past several years. Among them are Abu Hafs al Shahri, al Qaeda’s operations chief for Pakistan (killed September 2011); Abu Hafs al Najdi, al Qaeda’s operations chief for Kunar province (killed April 2011); Sa’ad Mohammad al Shahri, a longtime jihadist and the son of a retired Saudi colonel (killed October 2010); and Abdallah Umar al Qurayshi, al Qaeda’s third-in-command in Afghanistan, who also maintained extensive contacts with facilitators throughout the Middle East (killed September 2010).

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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  • mike merlo says:

    Its interesting that this kind of material/subject matter resonant’s with these people. I guess the Marine video could be interpreted as ‘poetry in motion.’

  • mike merlo says:

    Wasn’t Charlie Manson a ‘poet?’ Or was it a lyricist?

  • Thurman Poat says:

    You mention that “…other senior Saudis who operate in the region are Mohammad Abul Khair and Osama bin Laden’s son, Sa’ad. Both are also known to operate from within Iran.”
    What, do you think, is their relationship with the Iranian government (are they operating in hiding?) How does this relationship exist via the prism of Shia-Sunni situation? It seems messy and any insight would be helpful…

  • mike merlo says:

    re:T Poat
    The Shia Sunni nexus surfaced shortly after the ‘split’ occurred. On the one hand they go after each other with vengeance while simultaneously cooperating & collaborating with each other on multiple levels. Some similarities between the Catholics & Protestants can be used as ‘points of reference’ when seeking a better understanding of the Shia Sunni nexus. One interesting feature of ‘the nexus’ is how they willing help each other to get rid of each others rivals.

  • Paul D says:

    Another Saudi combatant.If we have a nationality breakdown in anti western terrorists.I wonder where Saudis would come?.Up with Pakistan and Eygpt i would suggest.


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