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SALEH AL-SOMALI KILLED IN SOUTH WAZIRISTAN

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A senior Al Qaeda operative has been reportedly killed in a drone attack in North-West FATA region, Pakistan. The drone attack was first reported on Wednesday 12/09/2009 night by NBC News.

The official, who did not immediately identify the person killed in the attack, which occurred very recently, however said it was neither Osama Bin Laden nor Ayman Al Zawahiri, the terror network’s top two leaders.

On Friday 12/11/2009, a USA counter-terrorism official said the target was Saleh Al-Somali (pic) and he is believed to have been killed during the attack. Saleh Al-Somali was, allegedly, responsible for the foreign relations of Al Qaeda. He worked with Western recruits when they arrived in the tribal areas of western Pakistan where the terrorist group has sought refuge. Saleh Al-Somali was also the a liaison officer to al-Shabab in Somalia, the official said. If so there is, probably, a link between the attack and the arrest of 6 Americans in Sargodha, on Monday 12/07/2009 (see  – Sargodha Arrests).

According to a USA official, Saleh Al-Somali was responsible for al Qaeda’s operations outside of the Afghanistan-Pakistan region and formed part of al Qaeda’s senior leadership circle. He is also said to have had “connections with other Pakistan-based extremists.”

Saleh Al-Somali was engaged in plotting terrorist acts around the world and “given his central role, this probably included plotting attacks against the United States and Europe,” the official said (see – AQ Network System).

The drone attack, if confirmed, would be the first high-ranking member killed in almost a year. CBS News has also confirmed that a Hellfire missile was fired from an unmanned UAV Predator drone and likely killed a top Al Qaeda commander.

According to a media report, more than four people were killed and four others injured in the drone attack in an area of the South Waziristan province. A Pakistani media report said those killed included four foreign fighters, a term normally used to describe Al Qaeda militants.

The reports about the strike came a day after the US Air Force confirmed for the first time that it had deployed a new stealth unmanned aircraft, the RQ-170 Sentinel, known as the “Beast of Kandahar,” found in photographs but still shrouded in secrecy.

 

The Obama administration is believed to have quietly authorized a CIA proposal to expand the use of drone to Baluchistan, where it believes Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Omar is holed up with his new ‘Shura’ (council).

Meanwhile, Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik Thursday termed the drone strikes as a “curse” for the country, saying that the government of Pakistan and its people strongly condemn these attacks. He said Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, the National Assembly and the four provincial assemblies had already condemned the drone attacks.

North-west Pakistan bordering Afghanistan has seen a surge in US drone strikes, which fuel anger against the U.S. in the nuclear-armed Muslim country, since President Barack Obama took office and put the country on the front line of the war on Al Qaeda.

Since August 2008, more than 65 such strikes have killed around 625 people, including Pakistan Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud, Al Qaeda commander Rashid Rauf and many others. However, it is difficult to confirm the precise identity of many of the victims as the remote mountain area is largely closed to outsiders.

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