Score: Al Qaeda’s operational chief in Pakistan liquidated in drone attack

posted at 5:25 pm on September 15, 2011 by Allahpundit

A 9/11 anniversary present from the CIA. Had he lived, this guy might have been set to inherit some of the duties of Atiyah al-Rahman, the group’s overall operational chief and new number two, who was killed in another drone strike a few weeks ago. But there’s no way to be sure: We’re now killing these degenerates in such quick succession that the next-in-lines are being liquidated before they can fill the vacancies above them.

If you had asked me in January 2009 what the most successful aspect of Obama’s presidency would be, I would not have guessed “destroying Al Qaeda.” Credit where it’s due.

A senior administration official tells ABC News that officials have confirmed that al Qaeda’s chief of Pakistan operations, Abu Hafs al-Shahri, was killed earlier this week in Waziristan, Pakistan.

The administration does not confirm the use of predator drones, but on Sunday, the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, a drone fired two missiles at a car as it entered a compound in Mir Ali, North Waziristan, killing three militants.

“Abu Hafs’ death will further degrade al Qaeda’s ability to recover from the death last month of AQ’s number two, Atiyah, because of his operations experience and connections within the group,” the senior administration official said, referring to ‘Atiyah ‘Abd al-Rahman, the deputy leader of al Qaeda killed in August.

Michael Vickers, the Pentagon’s undersecretary for intelligence, noted a few days ago that we’ve now killed eight of Al Qaeda’s top 20 leaders — this year alone. That’s remarkable, and offhand I can’t think of any pat explanation for the sudden burst of success. Obviously the data recovered from Bin Laden’s compound has been helpful (it was probably crucial in locating Atiyah, who was Osama’s right-hand man), but it’s hard to believe that accounts for all eight operations. There’s been a major leap forward in either human intelligence or intel technology that’s made it considerably easier to track these guys, but unless I missed an article online somewhere, that leap has never been explained. That’s for the best given the security implications, but it’s still surprising.

Needless to say, there’s more value to these strikes than simply neutralizing a bad guy. Says counterterror expert Bruce Hoffman to WaPo, “The people still out there have to be convinced their time is near and are spending more time thinking about that than planning operations; it realigns their priorities from attacks to survival.” Indeed — and that goes all the way to the top:

NBC News reported Tuesday that a senior U.S. intelligence official believed that al-Zawahri was “constantly on the run” as he tried to avoid being targeted by CIA drone strikes or a special forces raid. NBC News’ Jim Miklaszewski said al-Zawahri was focusing on “just trying to stay alive” and had no role in any al-Qaida operations.

The Pakistani official, who requested anonymity because he is not allowed to speak to the media, said that “solid intelligence reports based on recent al-Qaida arrests” suggested that al-Zawahri had “gone either to Yemen or Somalia.”

An Afghan Taliban source also said al-Zawahri had left the region, NBC News reported.

The Pentagon doubts that he’s left Pakistan but doesn’t doubt that he’s spending most of his time these days trying not to die. Savor the thought of Al Qaeda’s first weapon, fear, being used to such expert effect against it. Vickers said a few days ago that he thinks AQ could completely lose its operational capacity within two years. At the rate we’re going, it’d be an achievement if they lasted that long.

Exit question: Why wouldn’t Zawahiri try to relocate to Yemen? Somalia’s a bad choice because he’d stick out too much, but in Yemen he’d be an Arab among Arabs. Granted, it’s dangerous for him to try to run lest the CIA pick up his scent, but the Bin Laden raid proved that it’s dangerous to stay put too. Yemen’s also where the action is jihad-wise: By almost universal acclaim, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninula is the single most dangerous arm of AQ these days, especially given the country’s instability after months of Arab Spring protests. If he doesn’t go to Yemen, he risks being usurped by Awlaki and AQAP, whereas if he does go, he reasserts himself as international leader of the movement. What does he have to lose? We’re going to kill him eventually either way, and if he makes it all the way to Yemen, he’ll have to worry about fewer drones than he does now. Run for it, jerky!

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Another one bites the dust.

I’ll drink to that.

novaculus on September 15, 2011 at 5:27 PM

Another one bites the dust. HURRAY!

Ooops! Am I wicked for celebrating this scum’s death? TOO BAD!

honsy on September 15, 2011 at 5:29 PM

Payback for the Kabul mayhem a few days ago, in addition to just glass-ing the right figure.

Schadenfreude on September 15, 2011 at 5:29 PM

WHAT?? No civilian trial in New York City??

WARMONGERZZZZZZZZ!!!!!!!!

CurtZHP on September 15, 2011 at 5:29 PM

is only remark about Barack Obama was, as I recall it, ‘No matter who wins, when he hears what I hear every morning, it will change him.’”

lorien1973 on September 15, 2011 at 5:29 PM

Ooops! Am I wicked for celebrating this scum’s death? TOO BAD!

honsy on September 15, 2011 at 5:29 PM

Roger Simon and Michael Moore are horrified at your reaction.

Schadenfreude on September 15, 2011 at 5:30 PM

Don’t such actions only create more terrorists? I heard that somewhere, can’t remember where exactly, sometime between 2001 and 2009.

Bishop on September 15, 2011 at 5:30 PM

If you had asked me in January 2009 what the most successful aspect of Obama’s presidency would be, I would not have guessed “destroying Al Qaeda.”

AttackWatch.com is the legacy Obama’s presidency.

Drone kills are result of the hardworking men and women of the military.

pedestrian on September 15, 2011 at 5:30 PM

liquidated

I always enjoy a good pun.

Vashta.Nerada on September 15, 2011 at 5:32 PM

My favorite memory of this administration will be thinking about Al Qaeda lieutenants running like so many panicked ants scurrying away from a relentless magnifying glass.

Lily on September 15, 2011 at 5:33 PM

WHAT?? No civilian trial in New York City??

I got your trial RIGHT HERE.

This is how they all need to be retired. Or shot in the face. Either way.

Constantine on September 15, 2011 at 5:34 PM

Doesn’t solve the problem.
This is the very definition of ‘whack a mole’ that the left hung around the neck of Bush for 8 years.

Skandia Recluse on September 15, 2011 at 5:35 PM

Music to my ears. They don’t call it Hellfire for nothing. Is it just me or do these drones look like actual angels of death?

KillerKane on September 15, 2011 at 5:35 PM

Boy, their Human Resources Department must be working around the clock these days!

michaelo on September 15, 2011 at 5:36 PM

Somewhere, Michael Moore softly weeps.

Goodale on September 15, 2011 at 5:37 PM

Republicans criticised for applauding this at the next debate.

AnotherOpinion on September 15, 2011 at 5:41 PM

#1: Congratulations, Abdul! You are now the new #2 of Al Qaeda. Take my advice…do not begin reading any long books.

RedMindBlueState on September 15, 2011 at 5:41 PM


we’ve now killed eight of Al Qaeda’s top 20 leaders

I’m thinking that they’re starting to run low on virgins up there.

EA_MAN on September 15, 2011 at 5:42 PM

If you had asked me in January 2009 what the most successful aspect of Obama’s presidency would be, I would not have guessed “destroying Al Qaeda.” Credit where it’s due.

I don’t know if it wasn’t predictable. I think General Patraeus inked in Al Qeada, in his year at a glance day planner. Monday January 19th 2009, kill Al Qeada leadership, Tuesday 20th 2009, kill Al Qeada leadership, Wednesday 21st, 2009, kill Al Qeada leadership and take Stan McChrystal to lunch at Burger King, Thursday 22nd, 2009, kill Al Qeada leadership…..skip ahead September 7th, 2011 sworn in as CIA chief, kill Al Qeada leadership….

Dr Evil on September 15, 2011 at 5:43 PM

This is the very definition of ‘whack a mole’ that the left hung around the neck of Bush for 8 years.

Skandia Recluse on September 15, 2011 at 5:35 PM

Every time you kill a higher up, someone less able fills his position. Do it often enough and its a leadership vacuum. May seem like whack a mole, but it’s a pretty effective way to take down a large, disparate group.

Since you can’t rely on these people ever not wanting to be savages, may as well just remove them from the pool of savages.

lorien1973 on September 15, 2011 at 5:43 PM

Roger Simon and Michael Moore are horrified at your reaction.

Schadenfreude on September 15, 2011 at 5:30 PM

Oh, good! A two-fer!

honsy on September 15, 2011 at 5:43 PM

#1: Congratulations, Abdul! You are now the new #2 of Al Qaeda. Take my advice…do not begin reading any long books.

RedMindBlueState on September 15, 2011 at 5:41 PM

. . . and don’t bother hanging those painings on the walls of your new cave, either. :)

honsy on September 15, 2011 at 5:45 PM

According to Hannibal this is what happens when you anger men with long memories.

tmitsss on September 15, 2011 at 5:46 PM

Al-Zawahiri would be a nice trophy because he’s a douchebag, but I really want to see Adam Gadahn burn. Traitor to the U.S. AND a douchebag.

change is for suckers on September 15, 2011 at 5:46 PM

I’d like to see them do a barrel roll in celebration.

Ward Cleaver on September 15, 2011 at 5:47 PM

According to Hannibal this is what happens when you anger men with long memories.

tmitsss on September 15, 2011 at 5:46 PM

Refresh my memory – how did Hannibal end up? And his home of Carthage – is it still a great nation?

honsy on September 15, 2011 at 5:48 PM

Run for it, jerky!

I really hope Zawahiri reads Hot Air…

Seven Percent Solution on September 15, 2011 at 5:54 PM

Agree with the “give credit where it’s due” sentiment.
Good work, CIA and U.S. military!

Oh yeah…
And thanks for staying out of the way, Obama.
You little turd.

justltl on September 15, 2011 at 5:55 PM

Al-Zawahiri would be a nice trophy because he’s a douchebag, but I really want to see Adam Gadahn burn. Traitor to the U.S. AND a douchebag.

change is for suckers on September 15, 2011 at 5:46 PM

I think a hell fire missile is too good for Gadahn. I would like to see him get it from someone on the inside collecting a bounty or whatever.

Dr Evil on September 15, 2011 at 5:55 PM

He is creating some jobs.I wonder if they have health insurance.

docflash on September 15, 2011 at 5:57 PM

Boy, their Human Resources Department must be working around the clock these days!

Succession planning must be a bitch, but OTOH look at the savings they are realizing on severance packages! Basically a nice urn to put the few recognizable shreds of charred flesh and bone fragments in, followed by a quickie funeral, because for some reason the rank and file don’t like standing around in groups for any length of time…

drunyan8315 on September 15, 2011 at 5:58 PM

No trial, no due process.

This Bush is a war criminal.

How do we know this guy was a terrorist? What was the proof? What about transparency? And if so, what crimes did he commit? Did he set off a car bomb or kill anyone? How do we know?

Are we just “liquidating” people just because they belong to a group?

Gitmo bothers us on the left? What about just going out and turning people into goo?

If they are Al Qaeda, do you think they travel alone? Do they not have “innocent” folks around them? “Civilians”?

This cements that this this so-called president Bush is a war criminal.

What? What do you mean?

Oh…Obama is the President.

Never mind.

Go Obama!

Opposite Day on September 15, 2011 at 5:59 PM

Score: Al Qaeda’s operational chief in Pakistan liquidated in drone attack

Soilent Green Jobs…

Mr_Magoo on September 15, 2011 at 5:59 PM

Dr Evil on September 15, 2011 at 5:55 PM

I am cheering your comment, but only because I am part of the Republican mob.

change is for suckers on September 15, 2011 at 6:00 PM

Michael Vickers, the Pentagon’s undersecretary for intelligence

Is this the same Mike Vickers that figured prominently in Charlie Wilson’s War?

Mark1971 on September 15, 2011 at 6:00 PM

whoops: *soylent*

Mr_Magoo on September 15, 2011 at 6:02 PM

Dr Evil on September 15, 2011 at 5:55 PM

I am cheering your comment, but only because I am part of the Republican mob.

change is for suckers on September 15, 2011 at 6:00 PM

Hell Fire Missiles are expensive. If we can take out Ghadhan, wholesale not retail we should. Of course it would be nice to have a camera phone snapshot of his face when he realizes he’s being cashed out ;)

Dr Evil on September 15, 2011 at 6:05 PM

Wouldn’t “vaporized” be a better term for it? I was under the impression there wasn’t much “liquid” left after a hellfire missile strike. Just some greasy paste smeared around the cave that you’d need a spatula to spoon up for some DNA testing.

Khorum on September 15, 2011 at 6:06 PM

If you had asked me in January 2009 what the most successful aspect of Obama’s presidency would be, I would not have guessed “destroying Al Qaeda.” Credit where it’s due.

The guy is at his best when he’s unleashing his inner Dick Cheney.

Ooooh; doncha just luv the cognitive dissonance of the Left?

Mmmm. Mmmm. Mmmm.

Bruno Strozek on September 15, 2011 at 6:07 PM


Al Qaeda’s operational chief in Pakistan liquidated liquified in drone attack

That’s better.

Tony737 on September 15, 2011 at 6:17 PM

Nice work CIA and Air Force!

This and the Medal of Honor ceremony … it’s been a good day.

Tony737 on September 15, 2011 at 6:19 PM

Obama is awesome.

Lily on September 15, 2011 at 6:28 PM

We’re now killing these degenerates in such quick succession that the next-in-lines are being liquidated before they can fill the vacancies above them.

Well hell yeah, I would hope so, after all the intel that was scooped up during that bin Laden pajama party back in May. They’ve simply run out of hiding places.

RMCS_USN on September 15, 2011 at 6:38 PM

A little surmising here, a little extrapolation:

All these knuckleheads are in very mountainous country where the two best forms of communication are the pony express and satellite phones. With the black books recovered from OBL’s compound and years of NSA sleuthing, it is likely that phone-targeting is becoming much easier and more accurate. And vaporizing ponies from altitude is way too easy these days.

Robert17 on September 15, 2011 at 6:38 PM

“So…you liquidated him, eh? Very resourceful.”

Coronagold on September 15, 2011 at 6:39 PM

Was it Paki intel that named the guy and gave his creds?
Was it Paki intel that identified the guys location?
Was it Paki intel that identified and confirmed the kill?

Heh!

Pakistan holds the football slicker than Lucy.

BL@KBIRD on September 15, 2011 at 6:50 PM

Excellent!!

canopfor on September 15, 2011 at 7:05 PM

I got your trial RIGHT HERE.

Constantine on September 15, 2011 at 5:34 PM

It’s trial sized. I’ll give you that.

CurtZHP on September 15, 2011 at 7:18 PM

One possible explanation for this is that the ISI is throwing them to the wolves.

If there’s been a falling-out between the ISI and al Qaeda, then ISI could retaliate by fingering al Qaeda brass to the Americans, who would be very glad to kill them with Predator strikes.

Steven Den Beste on September 15, 2011 at 7:34 PM

Kansas: Relentless

pugwriter on September 15, 2011 at 7:38 PM

Perhaps the secret to our killing so many al-Qaeda douchebags in such a short time is that the lower-downs have realized the futility of jihad and are now giving up the higher-ups for money. Hey, it’s a theory.

RebeccaH on September 15, 2011 at 7:53 PM

I like “liquidated”, but somehow “pulverized” has a nice ring to it too. I agree, credit where credit is due, but I credit the military, not our clueless leader. How tough does one have to be to say to a military who has tracked down a target. “yea, go ahead and liquidate/pulverize ‘em.” Good job, military!

scalleywag on September 15, 2011 at 8:29 PM

What does he have to lose? We’re going to kill him eventually either way,

Sweet

tommylotto on September 15, 2011 at 8:43 PM

There’s been a major leap forward in either human intelligence or intel technology that’s made it considerably easier to track these guys, but unless I missed an article online somewhere, that leap has never been explained. That’s for the best given the security implications, but it’s still surprising.

I’m sure the folks at the NY Times are working night and day to find out what that leap is and tell everyone all about it.

trigon on September 15, 2011 at 8:43 PM

Exit question: Why wouldn’t Zawahiri try to relocate to Yemen?

He probably still has nightmares of the drone strikes in Yemen in the early years.

Steve Eggleston on September 15, 2011 at 9:00 PM

My guess is,theyre getting actionable intel from someone close. Maybe not aq itaelf but maybe paki,intel. Of course I,base this in nothing, but cmon. We knew the house obl was in for the better part of a year before we went in. I doubt that that,raid netted enough current intel to be responsinle for all these ither hits months later. Aq is supposed to be a fluid cell structre thats,hard to link any two or three leaders together ay any time. Stands to reason then that someonr there has up to date intel, after all were netting big fish in pakistan, not big fish in yemen or other parts of the world were aq has signifigant reach…

p00pies on September 15, 2011 at 9:17 PM

Hellfire and brimstone!

exhelodrvr on September 15, 2011 at 10:19 PM

Al Qaeda has has a heck of a succession plan. Being #2 is worse than being #1.

c3ichief on September 16, 2011 at 1:51 AM

More, please.

Extrafishy on September 16, 2011 at 5:54 AM