The FBI scratched two of its Most Wanted terrorists off its list on New Years Day, courtesy of the CIA. Fahid Mohammed Ali Msalam and Sheikh Ahmed Salem Swedan, the al-Qaeda leaders indicted for the two 1998 embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya, reached room temperature after an air strike by the intelligence agency killed the pair in Pakistan:
Two top al Qaeda officials are believed dead following a New Year’s Day drone attack in northern Pakistan, ABC News has confirmed. U.S. officials said Fahid Mohammed Ali Msalam and Sheikh Ahmed Salem Swedan, both on the FBI’s most wanted terrorists list, were killed in the CIA strike.
Msalam, who also went by the alias Usama al-Kini, and Swedan were both from Kenya and were indicted in the Aug. 7, 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya and for conspiring to kill U.S. citizens. …
John Kiriakou, a former CIA officer and ABC News consultant, described Msalam as “probably the single most prominent African member of al Qaeda” and a leader who known as a “logistics whiz.”
“He was very important in al Qaeda’s ability to coordinate and plan very complicated terrorist operations,” said Kiriakou, adding that the U.S. government had been looking for him “for a very long time.”
FBI spokesman Richard Kolko said in statement late Thursday that Msalam was believed to be the operations chief for al Qaeda in Pakistan. While he could not confirm Msalam’s alleged involvement in the September 2008 attack on the Marriott hotel in Islamabad, he said U.S. offficials reported Msalam was involved in attacks in Pakistan over the last year.
These two didn’t stay on the sidelines or rest on their poisonous laurels after the embassy bombings. They moved up to positions of power in AQ and conducted more attacks. It’s interesting to note, though, that their world shrunk considerably after 9/11. They moved from Africa to Pakistan and kept the scope of their operations within that nation. It could be that they wanted to move to the “home office”, as it were, but it appears more that they could not operate much outside of Pakistan and had to make the best of it.
Now they can’t operate at all, and AQ has even less resources to mount full-scale terrorist attacks outside of their shrinking world. Ayman al-Zawahiri issued a statement after the attack (but before it became public knowledge) that AQ would ensure that America doesn’t live in peace until Palestine is free of crusaders, but right now he has to be more worried about the CIA’s accuracy. People are talking, and AQ’s top ranks are dropping like flies.
Maybe the next bomb will find Zawahiri himself, or his psychopathic boss. We can only hope.
Update (AP): Iraq isn’t the only place where Obama’s job was made easier over the past year. From Roggio, a round-up of the tribal areas greatest recent hits:
Abu Laith al Libi, a senior military commander in Afghanistan, was killed in a strike in North Waziristan in January. Abu Sulayman Jazairi, al Qaeda’s external operations chief, was killed in a strike in Bajaur in March. Abu Khabab al Masri, al Qaeda’s weapons of mass destruction chief, and several senior members of his staff were killed in a strike in South Waziristan in July. Khalid Habib, the leader of al Qaeda’s paramilitary forces in the tribal Ares, was killed in North Waziristan in October. Abu Jihad al Masri, the leader of the Egyptian Islamic Group and member of al Qaeda’s top council, was also killed in North Waziristan this October.