|Drone Attacks: 'The Best Of A Bad Set Of Options'|
"In Pakistain's context, drone attacks have worked and brought remarkable results," says security expert Emma McEachan, who has served with . "Paks have been cooperative, but quiet." She said there were limitations with how to verify who is being killed because the US had to reply on local agents rather than forensics. "Drone attacks obviously come with costs, but they are the best of a bad set of options."
But Pakistain seems to be rethinking its drone policy. "We have raised the drone attacks issue with the US at various levels. We are trying to resolve this issue on a priority basis," Foreign Office Moazzam Khan told s in a recent briefing.
An important argument against drone attacks is that they fuel more terrorism than they prevent. There is a significant backlash against the attacks in the Pak media, and a number of polls indicate a majority of Paks oppose them. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani admits drone attacks have killed key terror suspects, but has spoken against them in the parliament and on public forums.
But a poll conducted by the Aryana Institute in the tribal areas shows the local people support drone strikes. A top Pakistain Army commander stationed in FATA and fighting Taliban, Al Qaeda, and other s, told local journalists he favoured drone attacks. Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistain (TTP), who are seen as enemy by the Pak military, have also been targeted in drone attacks. The TTP publicly acknowledged sending out a Jordanian who killed 14 members of CIA working at a drone command and control station in Afghanistan.
Mohsin Afridi, an activist who opposes drone attacks, says many of them have killed children. "While the US kills us from sky, Paks kill us on the ground in attacks." He claimed more than 4,000 civilians have been killed in drone strikes. Other sources say the number of verified civilian deaths is much less.
"Pakistain needs a clear policy on drone attacks along with an above-board counter terrorism policy that doesn't pick between the good and bad ones," says Carl Adams, a former NATO commander. "For its part, the United States needs to realize that any policy on drones needs to be carefully worked out with Pakistain before any more strikes happen."
The use of CIA personnel to operate and conduct drone strikes has also become a serious legal issue. CIA personnel are not part of the US armed forces, are not subject to military command structure, and do not wear uniform. Under international law, they are therefore civilians directly participating in hostilities, much like the fighters they target.
But Matthew Waxman, adjunct senior fellow for law and foreign policy with the Council on Foreign Relations, believes there is legal justification for the attacks. "In general, lethal force is legally permissible against in an ongoing war and such force may be used on the territory of a foreign state," he said, "if that state consents or if it is unwilling or unable to take action."
|The future of Al Qaeda|
|Al Qaeda is said to have been weakened globally by the death of its leader last year, but analysts say it is not clear if it makes it less deadly or more.|
"It has become desperate," says Air Vice Marshall (r) Shahid Khan, a defence analyst. "Its organizational structure has weakened, and it feels vulnerable."
Because of this desperation, especially after the Arab Spring that is being seen as an ideological defeat for Al Qaeda in the world, the world's top terror network may reorient its operations and ideology and continue to carry out major terrorist attacks, according to former US counterterrorism official Carl Adams.
Al Qaeda is in a new phase, with a new leadership and a new strategy. The consequences of that strategy are yet to be seen.
Dr Ayman al-
After Osama bin Laden's death on May 2 last year, Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri became the leader of the organization on June 16, 2011. He had been the ideological head of what is now known as the Egyptian Group within the Al Qaeda network. He has a Master's degree in surgery from Cairo University and was a leader of the group in Afghanistan in the 1980s. He became Osama's deputy after he merged Islamic Jihad with Al Qaeda in 1998.
Zawahiri has admitted in his book to have orchestrated the first in Pakistain in 1995. The target was the Egyptian embassy in Islamabad.
Zwahiri was last seen, according to US intelligence reports, in Pakistain's Agency. The Americans believe he resides in North and operates with the Haqqanis. He has shown strong-arm tactics forging alliances with Pakistain's sectarian and jihadi organizations to attack targets in Afghanistan and Pakistain.
Abu Yahya al-Libi
A Libyan citizen who speaks fluent Pashtu, Urdu and English, Abu Yahya al-Libi is the second most of Al Qaeda. He is the ideological and spiritual leader of Al Qaeda members fighting around the world, and heads the network's Sharia and Political Committee.
Jarret Brachman, a former analyst for the CIA, says the following about Libi: "He's a warrior. He's a poet. He's a scholar. He's a pundit. He's a military commander. And he's a very charismatic, young, brash rising star within Al Qaeda, and I think he has become the heir apparent to Osama bin Laden in terms of taking over the entire global jihadist movement."
Saif al-Adl is a former Egyptian Army Special Forces Officer who came to Afghanistan and has trained most of the key fighters of Al Qaeda and Afghan groups in weapons and military strategy.
He is the head of Al Qaeda's military committee and wrote one of the most read jihadist manuals, The Base of the Vanguard. He still trains most of the fighters of Al Qaeda and its affiliate groups in military combat.
According to Pakistain's ISI, Adl has trained the who attacked the PNS Mehran navy base in in 2011. Intelligence reports say he moves between North Waziristan and South Waziristan.
In 2010, he released a video in which he offered Al Qaeda's 'peace plan'. Al Qaeda offered a truce in that video, if the US withdrew its troops from countries and stopped supporting Israel.
Other members of Al Qaeda's core council include: Khalib al-Habib (Egyptian), Adnan al Shukrijumah (Saudi), Atiyah Abd al-Rahman (Libyan), Hamza al-Jawfi (Saudi/Egyptian), Matiur Rehman (Pak), Nasser Abdul Karim al-Wahaysi (Saudi), Abu Mossab Abdelwadoud (Algerian), Fahd Mohammad Ahmed al-Quso (Yemeni) and Midhat Mursi (Egyptian).
A new strategy
After the death of Osama bin Laden last year and the killing of a large number of key operatives in US drone attacks in Pakistain, Al Qaeda has shifted its attention from South and Central Asia to Somalia and Yemen.
It has "outsourced most of its operations to various groups in Pakistain and Afghanistan", according to Art Keller, a former CIA official who had worked with the ISI to find Al Qaeda operatives in FATA.
In Somalia, Al Qaeda operates through A , while in Yemen, organization works with Al Qaeda to fight a war to overthrow the Yemeni government.
In Pakistain, Al Qaeda has also found reliable partners in the Haqqani Network. Badruddin Haqqani, Nasiruddin Haqqani and Khalil al Rahman Haqqani serve as deputies of Sirajuddin and Jalaluddin Haqqani and organize attacks on major targets in Afghanistan.
Ties between Al Qaeda and TTP have worsened over the last few years. "In fact, Al Qaeda in Pakistain has found new friends in the Punjabi Taliban, through the Pak Al Qaeda leader Matiur Rehman," an American intelligence official said.
Documents seized from bin Laden's compound and recently declassified by the US government show the Al Qaeda leadership was not happy with Hakeemullah Mehsud's leadership style and had asked him to focus his energies on Afghanistan rather than Pakistain.
"We have several important comments that cover the concept, approach, and behavior of the TTP in Pakistain, which we believe are passive behavior and clear legal and religious mistakes which might result in a negative deviation from the set path of the Jihadi Movement in Pakistain, which also are contrary to the objectives of Jihad and to the efforts exerted by us," Osama bin Laden said in a letter. He said the killing of s and using people as human shields were part of these "mistakes".
Eventually, in late 2011, four major Taliban groups in Pakistain formed the Shura-e-Murakeba - after a deal was negotiated by Abu Yahya al-Libi, Sirajuddin Haqqani, Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mansour, an Al Qaeda's Abdur Rehman Al Saudi - and decided to fight the US and other forces in Afghanistan.
The future of Al Qaeda:
"Where Al Qaeda goes from here is hard to determine," says Carl Adams. "Although they are not as powerful as they used to be, Al Qaeda is neither resting nor going away anytime soon. It is desperate for a big breakthrough, and that makes it an unguided missile: formidable, disorderly, and injurious - even if sometimes crashing short of the intended targets."
|'Al Qaeda Sold Bin Laden Out'|
|Brig (r) Shaukat Qadir says Osama's personal courier Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, his wife Khairiah, and other friends betrayed him|
A year after was killed in a US raid in , evidence uncovered by retired Pakistain Army brigadier Shaukat Qadir suggests friends in the Al Qaeda network betrayed the network's chief.
"My year-long research has shown that Al Qaeda sold bin Laden out to the Americans," says Brig (r) Shaukat Qadir, who was given exclusive access to bin Laden's residence and family.
His book, Operation Geronimo: The betrayal and execution of Osama bin Laden and its aftermath, will be published electronically by Amazon.com.
Brig Qadir said bin Laden's personal courier Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, his wife Khairiah, and other unidentified friends betrayed the Al Qaeda chief.
Khairiah, bin Laden's Iranian wife, had left him in 2003 and was insisting on reuniting with him in 2010. Al-Kuwaiti was bragging with several people in about his connections and the wealth he had amassed while he was in the Middle East.
Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, a senior Al Qaeda leader, convinced bin Laden to accept Khairiah back. "But Khairiah was extremely jealous of Amal al-Sadah, the youngest wife of bin Laden," Brig Qadir said, because bin Laden had only been sleeping with Amal for four years.
On the night between May 1 and May 2 when American helicopters were hovering over bin Laden's compound, al-Kuwaiti warned his wife that the Americans had arrived. "How on earth did he know they were American helicopters and not Pak?"
He said al-Kuwaiti and his brother, living in the same premises, had Kalashnikovs, but did not fire even a single bullet on the raiding American commandos. "But it's a mystery why both of them were killed if they had reached any kind of deal with the Americans."
Some experts believe al-Kuwaiti was not a traitor, but became careless, and that helped the CIA track bin Laden down.
Brig Qadir said al-Kuwaiti was first detected when he bragged about his business in the Middle East, told people he was running a pharmaceutical agency, and bought a bulk of medicines. The information reached the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). For reasons not yet known, the ISI did not show haste in following the trail.
It has recently been claimed that the ISI had given the American CIA al-Kuwaiti's telephone number, and that proved to be the most crucial lead to bin Laden. "The ISI gave the CIA the telephone number of al-Kuwaiti's brother," Brig Qadir clarified.
Dr Shakeel Afridi, who ran a fake vaccination campaign in the area at the CIA's behest, might have spoken to Khairiah on telephone, he said. "There is a possibility the CIA experts had her voice matched."
Brig Qadir said bin Laden's compound was not built to shelter the world most wanted man. It was an ordinary house which did not even have an emergency escape route. It had 10 rooms for 27 people. There were no secret chambers or basements for the residents to hide in case of a raid.
The owner of the six-kanal house was Ibrahim Khan from Kohat, he said. Earlier, the media had reported that one Arshad Khan owned the house.
An official Pak probe team called the Abbottabad Commission is investigating the events and circumstances that led to the presence of bin Laden in Pakistain and his eventual death. It has summoned several civil and military officials.
But analysts believe it would not reach a conclusion to the benefit of either Pakistain or the United States. "It is just a formality the government of Pakistain is fulfilling," an expert said.
|Osama bin Laden 'ordered al-Qaeda to kill Barack Obama and David Petraeus'|
|Osama bin Laden ordered cells in Afghanistan and Pakistan to shoot down a plane carrying Barack Obama and Gen David Petraeus, it was reported on Friday. According to a document retreived from the compound where bin Laden was shot dead by US Navy Seals last May, the al-Qaeda leader also told his deputy Atiyah Abd al-Rahman to focus attacks with the US rather than in Muslim nations.|
Bin Laden told Rahman that without Mr Obama, the US would be thrown into "crisis" because Vice President Joe Biden was "unprepared" for the job, the Washington Post reported.
Biden actually was more prepared than Obama, which isn't saying much...
He also showed apparent regard for Petraeus.
"The reason for concentrating on them," bin Laden wrote in the 48-page document, "is that Obama is the head of infidelity and killing him automatically will make (Vice President Joe) Biden take over the presidency. ... Biden is totally unprepared for that post, which will lead the U.S. into a crisis. As for Petraeus, he is the man of the hour ... and killing him would alter the war's path" in Afghanistan.
Bin Laden instructed Rahman to use Pakistani terrorist Ilyas Kashmiri for the attack. Kashmri was killed in a US drone strike in South Waziristan on June 2, 2011.
"Please ask brother Ilyas to send me the steps he has taken into that work," he wrote.
|US drone may have come down in Afghanistan, not Iran|
|The CIA's RQ-170 "Sentinel" drone captured by the Iranians last week may have gone down in Afghanistan and then transported to Iran by friendly forces on the ground, a former officer in the elite Quds Force branch of Iran's Revolutionary Guards told The Daily Caller.|
The United States has never acknowledged that the drone was flying over Iranian airspace -- only that ground controllers "lost contact" with the drone and that it probably crashed. However, photographs and video footage released by the Iranians on Dec. 8, several days after they announced the drone's capture, clearly show that both wings had been neatly severed and then reattached.
The United States military has long complained that Iran supplies weapons, explosives, and money to the Taliban. The U.S. has identified camps inside Iran where Taliban fighters are trained.
Former U.S. Army intelligence officer Lt. Col Tony Schaeffer told FoxNews on Monday that he believed Iran's claims that it had interfered with the drone's command signal and forced it to land inside Iran. "If it had gone down inside Afghanistan, we should have blasted whoever had taken it before they could have moved it to Iran," he told TheDC on Tuesday.
The United States lost a drone to insurgents in Iraq in 2007 who managed to overwhelm its digital signal, which was unencrypted. The RQ-170 drone is also believed to have used an unencrypted data link, making Iran's claims to have brought it down through some form of cyber attack more credible.
In July, the U.S. Treasury Department revealed that Iran has been sheltering al-Qaida's top operations planner, the man who ultimately took over from 9/11-planner Khalid Sheikh Mohammad. In a press release that highlighted Iran's support for al-Qaida, Treasury said that Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, the terror group's operations commander, had been its "emissary in Iran, a position which allowed him to travel in and out of Iran with the permission of Iranian officials."
A former senior CIA operations officer told TheDC that most CIA drones are programmed to "return to base" if they lose contact with their controllers, using on-board GPS transponders to guide them. The fact that the drone crashed -- or was guided down by a hostile cyber-attack, as Iran has claimed -- proves a malfunction occurred, but not one serious enough to cause major damage during a crash landing.
"It's unconscionable there wasn't a self-destruct mechanism on board," the former CIA operations officer said. "Someone is going to have to be accountable for that. It was a clear oversight."
|Al-Qaeda war close to over, say US experts|
|With Al-Qaeda's core command weakened and vulnerable, US experts say it's time to ask how and when to declare victory over the group founded by in 1988.|
His killing in a raid by US special forces in Pakistain in May, followed by the August death of number two Atiyah abd al-Rahman in a US drone strike, has whittled down the network's leadership ranks.
Just two men are left to be eliminated from Al-Qaeda's central command, the experts say -- current leader Ayman al- and senior Abu Yahya al-Libi.
"That's basically it. If they are killed, it's as close to over as it can ever be," said Brian Fishman of the New America Foundation and the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.
"Al-Qaeda will never completely disappear," Fishman pointed out.
"There is always going to be somebody who is going to pick up a gun or try to build an IED in the name of Al-Qaeda," he told AFP.
"We'll have to learn to live with it, just like in the US we live with the fact that every once and a while a guy kills a police officer or a black and call himself a neo-Nazi."
Fishman predicted the group feared the world over in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people on US soil will become a network of "lone wolves" -- meaning the wider group has failed.
Andrew Exum, who led a platoon of Army Rangers in Iraq and Afghanistan, predicted Al-Qaeda could disappear within the next year or 18 months.
"They already are mortally -- the death of Al-Zawahiri would have a devastating effect," added Exum, of the Center for a New American Security.
The stakes are high for Washington, which has created a massive -- and costly -- anti-terrorism and national security apparatus since 9/11 that employs thousands of civilians and military officers.
While the decline of the threat posed by Al-Qaeda could lead to some budget reductions, no US official is likely to risk officially declaring victory over the much reviled group.
|Pakistani officials doubt al Qaeda Numbah Two dead|
|[Dawn] Pak security officials expressed doubt on Sunday over reports from the United States that it had killed the al Qaeda second-in-command near the Afghan border.|
local officials in the region told AFP last week that a US drone strike in North Waziristan on that date had killed at least four s. It was not clear if the two incidents were connected.
A senior Pak security official in told AFP: "We have checked this news report with informers and have worked on it. I doubt the authenticity of this news."
Another security official in Miramshah, the main town in North Waziristan, said he had received no information on the killing.
"For me it is just a rumour. Frankly speaking, we are even not aware that a man with this name is working as deputy chief of al Qaeda," he added.
The officials said the remote, mountainous area, just four kilometres from the Afghan border, is inaccessible.
"In such cases we rely on information sent from informers. We have not received any type of such a report," the security official in Mir Ali town, North Waziristan, told AFP.
An Afghan in Pakistain's northwestern tribal region who is in regular contact with al Qaeda described the news report as fake.
"It is a fake story. It's not true," he told AFP from .
According to US authorities, Rahman, who was in his late 30s and Libyan, was appointed by and was al Qaeda's emissary in Iran, recruiting and facilitating talks with other Islamic groups.
He joined bin Laden in Afghanistan as a teenager in the 1980s to fight the Soviet Union.
Washington has called Pakistain's semi-autonomous northwest tribal region the global headquarters of al Qaeda, where Taliban and other al Qaeda-linked networks have rear bases from which they launch attacks on forces in Afghanistan.
Although the United States does not publicly confirm drone attacks, its military and the CIA in Afghanistan are the only forces that deploy the unmanned Predator aircraft in the region.
|Al-Qaeda's number two killed in Pakistan: US official|
|[Dawn] Al-Qaeda's second-in-command, Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, has been killed in Pakistain, delivering another big blow to a terrorist group that the US believes to be on the verge of defeat, a senior official said Saturday.|
The Libyan national who was the network's former operational leader rose to al-Qaeda's No. 2 spot after the US killed al-Qaeda leader during a raid on his Pakistain compound in May.
Defense Secretary said last month that al-Qaeda's defeat was within reach if the US could mount a string of successful attacks on the group's weakened leadership.
"Now is the moment, following what happened with bin Laden, to put maximum pressure on them," Panetta said, "because I do believe that if we continue this effort we can really cripple al-Qaeda as a major threat."
Al-Rahman was killed Aug. 22 in the lawless Pak tribal region of , according to the official, who insisted on anonymity to discuss intelligence issues.
The official would not say how al-Rahman was killed. But his death came on the same day that a CIA drone strike was reported in Waziristan. Such strikes by unmanned aircraft are Washington's weapon of choice for killing in the mountainous, hard-to-reach area along the Pakistain-Afghanistan border.
Al-Rahman, believed to be in his mid-30s, was a close confidant of bin Laden and once served as bin Laden's emissary to Iran.
Al-Rahman was allowed to move freely in and out of Iran as part of that arrangement and had been operating out of Waziristan for some time, officials have said.
Born in Libya, al-Rahman joined bin Laden as a teenager in Afghanistan to fight the Soviet Union.
After Navy SEALs killed bin Laden, they found evidence of al-Rahman's role as operational chief, US officials have said.
|The Bin Laden emails: Al Qaeda running out of money, trained men|
|Osama Bin Laden spent his final months in hiding worrying about the future of Al Qaeda, emails recovered from computers in his hideout reveal. The terror leader was spending as much of his time dealing with concerns about funding and the toll being taken by CIA drone explosions as he was plotting attacks, according to U.S. intelligence officers.|
Officials said the emails depict an organisation beset by mounting problems as its leader remained obsessed on a follow up attack to September 11.
Al Qaeda leaders expressed their concerns about the organisation's finances in frequent emails to Bin Laden. In one, the head of the group's counterintelligence unit, which was set up to protect against infiltrations by traitors and spies, complained that they were losing the 'espionage war' as he struggled with 'a very low budget'. Bin Laden himself complained about the organisation's financial hardships and in one email ordered a deputy to form a group to raise money through the kidnapping of diplomats.
Organisers also complained of the strain on resources being brought by strikes from CIA unmanned aircraft. Bin Laden's number three, Atiyah abd al-Rahman, said that Al Qaeda fighters were being killed faster than they could be replaced.
In the months before the Arab Spring, Bin Laden warned affiliates in Yemen that there was not 'enough steel' in Al Qaeda's support structure to allow even tentative steps towards creating an Islamic state.
The emails suggest that despite the problems, Bin Laden was still focussed on attacking the U.S. 'The trove makes it clear that Bin Laden's primary goal - you can call it an obsession - was to attack the U.S. homeland,' a senior U.S. counterterrorism told the Washington Post. 'He pushed for this every way he could.'
The emails also include correspondence between Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, who succeeded him as Al Qaeda leader. The pair express frustration that the conflict between the terror group and the U.S. is not more widely perceived by Muslims as a religious war.
The messages, which were analysed by the CIA in Virginia, were mostly composed by Bin Laden on computer in his compound before being smuggled out on disks or thumb drives to be sent from outside.
|German Jihad: homegrown terror moves to the next level|
|Osama bin Laden may be dead, but al-Qaida is alive and well in Germany. Each month, an average of five Islamists leave the country for terrorist training camps in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area. Recent arrests in Düsseldorf show just how dangerous homegrown terror has become.|
It isn't easy being a militant Islamist, as
The al-Qaida handbooks make it all sound so easy. You buy charcoal lighters and extract the hexamine, and already you have a component for a bomb. Apparently the method works everywhere, except possibly in Germany, where charcoal lighters have a different chemical composition than in other countries. In Düsseldorf, investigators would later discover a cooking pot the two men may have wanted to use to boil down the lighters.
The apartment was under surveillance, as were the men's phones and computers. The police had been listening in on the two men's conversations for weeks, except when the sound of the television or the washing machine drowned out what they were saying. On Wednesday, when the men, speaking in broken German, began discussing "making an attack at bus stop" or possibly on a bus, the federal prosecutor's office decided to move in rather than wait until the would-be terrorists had built their bomb and were ready to use it.
On the morning of Friday, April 29, police arrested Moroccan national Abdeladim el-K., 29, German-Moroccan electrician Jamil S., 31 and German-Iranian student Amid C., 19, who was on the verge of taking his final examinations prior to graduating from high school.
At the center of the investigation in Düsseldorf was Abdeladim el-K., who investigators believe was the leader of the cell. He had allegedly brought the virus of Islamist terror from Afghanistan to Düsseldorf and had been in contact with Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, a senior member of al-Qaida. The two men had apparently met in an al-Qaida training camp in Pakistan, and it appeared that el-K. was al-Qaida's man for the Rhine-Ruhr region of western Germany.
Most Have Attended Training Camps
Much has changed in the Islamist terrorist scene in Germany in the almost 10 years since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but one constant has remained. Like the 9/11 attackers, the overwhelming majority of militant jihadists in Germany have attended training camps run by al-Qaida or affiliated groups.
In these camps, would-be terrorists receive instruction on terrorism techniques and are given orders to be carried out in Europe. The camps are still in the Hindu Kush region that straddles Afghanistan and northern Pakistan, but now they are somewhat farther to the south than before, in the border area between the two countries. The Western invasion of Afghanistan did not change that. Neither have countless military offensives or US drone attacks.
Osama bin Laden is dead, as are many of his closest associates. But the recruitment of new blood is still going strong. The terror network has been continually transforming itself, as new terrorists have come up through the ranks, running individual camps and smaller organizations, before disappearing from view again.
Al-Qaida today resembles an army whose battalions were torn apart after the invasion of Afghanistan and whose surviving troop units are now operating more or less autonomously. But there are still many soldiers willing to fight, including some from Germany. "So many people arrive every month that there are problems finding places for them to stay," says Rami Makanesi, a suspected al-Qaida member from Hamburg who also attended a training camp in the Hindu Kush region.
Paradoxically, the new structure, with its many splinter groups, makes it easier for Islamist fanatics to latch onto one of the organizations. "In the last few years, the threat level in Germany from al-Qaida has actually increased," says German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich, a member of the conservative Christian Social Union (CSU).
|Atiyah Abd al Rahman Zapped? Or Not?|
|Rumors abound but sources are fuzzy at best. It does look like there are probably some big fish in that small pond of North Wazoo, and they should be getting very nervous (if such is still biologically possible for them.)|
The first is Atiyah Abd al Rahman, a Libyan national who has been based in Iran and served as Osama bin Laden's ambassador to the mullahs. Unconfirmed press reports indicate that Rahman was killed in an airstrike earlier this week.
Atiyah Abd al Rahman may have been among one of four "militants" killed in an Oct. 7 airstrike on a compound and a vehicle in the village of Khaisoori in the Mir Ali area of North Waziristan. Another operative identified as Khalid Mohammad Abbas al Harabi was also reportedly killed.
|Letter: Al-Zarqawi had falling out with al-Qaida|
|CAIRO, Egypt - A top al-Qaida official warned Abu Musab al-Zarqawi six months before he was killed by a U.S. airstrike that he would be removed as the terror group’s head in Iraq if he did not consult with the group’s leadership on major issues.|
An al-Qaida leader named “Atiyah” cautioned al-Zarqawi in an 11-page letter against the war he had declared on Shiite Muslims.
The letter also criticized attacks the Iraqi branch had carried out in neighboring countries — an apparent reference to last year’s triple suicide attacks on hotels in the Jordanian capital of Amman that killed dozens.
“Anyone who commits tyranny and aggression upon the people and causes corruption within the land and drives people away from us and our faith and our jihad and from the religion and the message that we carry, then he must be taken to task,” Atiyah wrote, saying he was in the northwest Pakistani tribal region of Waziristan.
“We must direct him to what is right, just, and for the best. Otherwise, we would have to push him aside and keep him away from the sphere of influence and replace him and so forth,” he wrote.
Atiyah tells al-Zarqawi that on major issues he should consult with “your leadership, Sheik Osama (bin Laden) and the doctor (Ayman al-Zawahri) and their brothers ... as well as your Mujahedeen brothers in Iraq.”
Two government officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information, said the letter is believed to be authentic. They said Atiyah is considered to be bin Laden’s emissary to Iraq and served as a link between the al-Qaida leader and al-Zarqawi.
It wasn’t clear when Atiyah, a 37-year-old Libyan whose full name is Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, took over that role or precisely how close to bin Laden he is.
One of the officials said he is a religious scholar with knowledge of the Koran and Islamic law and a veteran of the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan. He joined al-Qaida in the early 1990s, when it was first formed, and spent some time in the mid-1990s in Algeria.
Atiyah is believed to be an explosives expert, the official said.
First revealed by Iraq’s National Security Adviser Mouwafak al-Rubaie on Sept. 18, The Washington Post reported in Monday’s editions that the letter was the first document to emerge from what the U.S. military described as a “treasure trove” of information uncovered from Iraqi safe houses at the time of al-Zarqawi’s death.
Al-Zarqawi was asked in the letter to correspond with al-Qaida in Waziristan through reliable messengers and was told not to attack Sunni clerics in Iraq or abroad — an apparent reference to the Sunni clerics who were assassinated after calling for Iraqis to take part in last year’s general elections.
“The war is long and our road is long. What is important is to keep the good reputation of yourself, the mujahedeen and especially your group,” Atiyah wrote.
The letter also praised al-Zarqawi, saying “you have hurt America, the largest infidel Crusader forces in history.”
It was dated the 10th of the Muslim month of Zhul Qadah, which was around mid-December last year and about six months before the Jordanian-born al-Zarqawi was killed in a U.S. airstrike north of Baghdad.