3 al Qaeda operatives reported killed in recent drone strike in Pakistan

The Sept. 6 drone strike in Pakistan that may have killed Mullah Sangeen Zadran, the Haqqani Network commander who also serves as the shadow governor for Paktika province in Afghanistan, appears to have also killed three al Qaeda operatives. Immediately after the strike, Zubair al Muzi (likely al Masri, or the Egyptian) was named as one of those killed. The other two operatives have been identified by The Express Tribune as Abu Bilal al Khurasani and Abu Dujana al Khurasan; both are said to be from Jordan. The strike targeted an al Qaeda facility known as the “Nawab camp.”

A US intelligence official who tracks al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan told The Long War Journal that the Jordanians were “mid-level al Qaeda commanders.” Al Musi has also been described as a mid-level commander in al Qaeda’s Lashkar al Zil, or Shadow Army [see LWJ report, Mullah Sangeen Zadran, al Qaeda commander reported killed in drone strike]. Additionally, two “locals” known as Arshad Dawar and Ajmal Dawar were also reported killed.

As we’ve noted numerous times at The Long War Journal, the Haqqani Network is just one of several Pakistani terror groups that allow al Qaeda to not only survive, but thrive, inside Pakistan. Without the support of groups like the Haqqani Network, al Qaeda would be hard pressed to sustain its operations in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Despite the Haqqani Network’s support for al Qaeda, the Pakistani government and military establishment continue to treat the Haqqani Network as “good Taliban,” or ones who do not threaten the Pakistani state.

Instead of thanking the US for killing Haqqani Network and al Qaeda operatives, who actually do threaten the Pakistani state, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs denounced the strike:

The Government of Pakistan strongly condemns the US drone strike that took place in Ghulam Khan Tehsil of North Waziristan on the early morning of 06th September 2013. These unilateral strikes are a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Pakistan has repeatedly emphasized the importance of bringing an immediate end to drone strikes.

The Government of Pakistan has consistently maintained that drone strikes are counter-productive, entail loss of innocent civilian lives and have human rights and humanitarian implications. Such strikes also set dangerous precedents in the inter-state relations.

These drone strikes have a negative impact on the mutual desire of both countries to forge a cordial and cooperative relationship and to ensure peace and stability in the region.

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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