Drone kills se­nior al-qaida leader

Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT - By Ish­tiaq Mah­sud and Ra­sool Dawar

PE­SHAWAR, PAk­IStAn — A U.S. drone strike killed a se­nior al-Qaida leader in Pak­istan’s tribal re­gion near the Afghan bor­der, Pak­istani in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials said, in the lat­est blow to the Is­lamic mil­i­tant net­work.

Sheik Khalid bin Ab­del Rehman al-Hus­sainan, who was also known as Abu Zaid al-Kuwaiti, was killed when mis­siles slammed into a house Thurs­day near Mir Ali, one of the main towns in the North Waziris­tan tribal area, the of­fi­cials said. They spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause they were not au­tho­rized to talk to the me­dia.

Al-Kuwaiti ap­peared in many videos re­leased by al-Qaida’s me­dia wing, AlSa­hab, and was pre­sented as a re­li­gious scholar for the group.

Ear­lier this year, he re­placed Abu Yahya alLibi, al-Qaida’s sec­ond in com­mand, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in North Waziris­tan in June, the in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials said. Al-Libi was a key re­li­gious fig­ure within alQaida and also a prom­i­nent mil­i­tant com­man­der.

Al-Kuwaiti ap­peared to be a less prom­i­nent fig­ure and was not part of the U.S. State De­part­ment’s list of most wanted ter- ror­ist sus­pects, as al-Libi had been.

Covert CIA drone strikes have killed a se­ries of se­nior al-Qaida and Tal­iban lead­ers in Pak­istan’s tribal re­gion over the past few years. The at­tacks are con­tro­ver­sial be­cause the se­cret na­ture of the pro­gram makes it dif­fi­cult to de­ter­mine how many civil­ians are be­ing killed.

On Sun­day, four dronelaunched mis­siles blew apart a house near Mi­ran Shah, an­other main town in North Waziris­tan, killing three sus­pected mil­i­tants, in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials said. North Waziris­tan has be­come the main hub for al-Qaida and Tal­iban mil­i­tants in Pak­istan.

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