A top spokesman for the Afghan Taliban denied reports that senior Haqqani Network leader Badruddin Haqqani was killed several days ago in a drone strike in North Waziristan.
“A number of media have reported that Badruddin Haqqani has been killed. We would like to inform all media that this rumor is not correct,” Zabihullah Mujahid, an official spokesman for the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, or the Afghan Taliban, said in an email that was obtained by The Long War Journal.
“Badruddin Haqqani is in the country and he is occupied with his operational responsibilities. He is alive and healthy. The rumor about him being killed is more propaganda of the enemy,” Mujahid continued.
Ahmad Jan, who identified himself to The Express Tribune as a spokesman for the Haqqani Network, also denied reports of Badruddin’s death and said a 13-year-old cousin named Osama had been killed.
“We will not hide it if any of the Haqqani family members are martyred,” Jan told The Express Tribune. “Martyrdom will only boost our jihadi spirit. Some people assumed it was Badruddin Haqqani who had been killed when they saw his family members at the funeral.”
Afghan National Directorate of Security deputy spokesman Shafiqullah Taheri told TOLONews that Badruddin was killed, however. An unidentified Haqqani Network family member has also claimed that Badruddin is dead.
Pakistani intelligence officials have said they believe that Badruddin was killed in the Aug. 21 drone strike in Miramshah, North Waziristan. The officials said they had picked up communications that indicated he was killed, and they claimed to be 90 percent certain the reports were true. US officials also said that they had intelligence that Badruddin may have been killed in a strike in the Taliban-controlled tribal agency.
Badruddin is one of the most senior leaders of the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network. He is thought to serve as the top deputy to Sirajuddin Haqqani, the group’s operational commander. In May 2011, he was added to the US’s list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists for his ties to al Qaeda and the Taliban [for more information on Badruddin, see LWJ report, Badruddin Haqqani rumored killed in US drone strike].
The US has launched five drone strikes in Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan since Aug. 18. Four of the strikes have taken place in the Shawal Valley, a terrorist haven near the Afghan border, and one more occurred in Miramshah.
In addition to Badruddin, Emeti Yakuf, the emir of the Turkistan Islamic Party who is also known as Abdul Shakoor Turkistani, is rumored to have been killed in the Aug. 24 drone strike in the Shawal Valley that hit a training camp. His death has not been confirmed. Yakuf directs al Qaeda operations in Pakistan’s tribal areas and has been involved in the global jihad since 1996.
Across the border in Afghanistan, the US killed Mullah Dadullah, and his deputy, Shakir, in an airstrike in Kunar province on Aug. 24. Dadullah, who was also known as Maulana Mohammad Jamal, was the emir of Bajaur branch of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.