Something’s up: Four major Al Qaeda commanders killed in Pakistani tribal areas — in 10 days
posted at 11:49 am on December 9, 2012 by Allahpundit
At least one of them was a very big fish.
Sheikh Khalid Bin Abdul Rehman Al-Hussainan, aka Abu-Zaid al Kuwaiti, was killed in Pakistan while eating breakfast, according to the accounts. The 46-year-old cleric was seen as part of the “very top tier” of al-Qaida’s remaining leaders in the wake of the death of Osama bin Laden, according to one expert on the terror group…
“That’s a big gap in the leadership,” said [Evan] Kohlmann, who is also a Justice Department consultant. “He was the last senior Al-Qaida leader in the Afghanistan-Pakistan area who was, one, from the Arabian Peninsula and, two, who had serious clerical credentials. Now there is no obvious publicly recognizable candidate left to succeed Zawahiri.”…
Al-Hussainan is the highest ranking al-Qaida official to be killed since [Atiyah Abdel Rahman].
Unless I’ve missed something, with Hussainan, Rahman, Abu Yahya al-Libi, and Ilyas Kashmiri all dead, AQ’s hierarchy now basically consists of Zawahiri on top and then a swarm of younger inexperienced no-names far beneath him who are trying to hold the group together by filling emerging leadership voids. But never mind that; the interesting bit here is the timing. Hussainan was killed on Friday and today we get this:
A U.S. drone attack killed a senior al Qaeda commander in Pakistan’s northwest on Sunday, military intelligence officials said, the second militant leader to be killed in strikes by the unmanned aircraft in three days.
The attack killed Mohammad Ahmed Almansoor and three others in a village close to Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan, near the Afghan border.
According to Bill Roggio, two other AQ capos were killed in drone strikes in South Waziristan on November 29 and December 1. Not only that, but those strikes were the first U.S. attacks in 36 days, the second-longest operational pause in drone warfare in Pakistan since 2008. What gives? Did the U.S. have a bead on these guys all along but decided to hold off while trying to rebuild relations with Pakistan, or did we stumble into some kind of intelligence windfall? Maybe it’s a bit of both: Coincidentally, Pakistan’s foreign minister declared on November 28 — a day before the first new drone strike — that relations with the U.S. have now been fully repaired. Could be that ISI, as a token of goodwill, decided to drop a dime on a bunch of Al Qaeda bigwigs, with the U.S. given a green light by Pakistani military leaders to go ahead and take them out.
Exit question: But what does ISI get in return from us? Hmmmmmmm.