This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/1354

Al Qaeda leader in charge of 'global planning' found and killed in Pakistani terrorist HQ Waziristan

Terrorists 'surrender' in Waziristan as Al Qaeda rejects claim of Rabia's death
December 4, 2005

MIM: Amazing how a few millions dollars reward and US promises of other perks enables the Pakistanis periodically to 'manage' to find and kill terrorists in Waziristan even those not listed in the local phone book. The United States was involved in the terrorist operation- and surely paid the Pakistanis to carry be able it out, while also trying to play down their involvement and present Musharraf as America's ally in the war on terror!.

As usual a win win situation for Musharraf. He gives the terrorists a haven in Waziristan- a situation similiar to a wildlife reservation- and in return for a substantial bribe from the United States, orders his men or allows the Americans to 'poach' one from time to time.

"...In June, CIA Director Porter Goss said he had "an excellent idea" where bin Laden was hiding but complained that the al-Qaida leader had taken advantage of "sanctuaries in sovereign states" beyond American reach. Although Goss did not single out the Pakistani government as the problem, U.S. and European officials said bin Laden had almost certainly taken refuge in semiautonomous Pakistani tribal areas near the Afghan border..."

"...The real point here is that Musharraf is not making any dent in the issue that matters — which is that the extremists are still operating rather freely in Pakistan and feel as comfortable there as ever," said M.J. Gohel, chief executive of the Asia-Pacific Foundation, a London think tank that specializes in security issues in South Asia. "What you need is to completely eradicate and eliminate the entire extremist infrastructure, but nothing has been done there. What has been done is the capture of individuals now and then to please Washington..."

"....In public statements, Pakistani officials declined to say whether Rabia had been killed by an American missile, although several privately confirmed the report. The use of such tactics is highly controversial in Pakistan, especially in the remote tribal areas where there is strong opposition to the presence of any U.S. military forces.

"Here is what I can tell you: Our troops were not involved in the operation, but this is one of the areas where our intelligence and operational cooperation with U.S. services is most intense," said a senior Pakistani intelligence official in the northwestern city of Peshawar, which is near North Waziristan.

"Comments on media reports that it was a Predator strike would invoke sovereignty issues," the official added. "Let's enjoy the fact that al-Qaida has lost another key person..."

"....Musharraf has recently acknowledged that he is not eager for bin Laden to be caught in his country, where he is seen as a hero to many Pakistanis and probably is more popular than Musharraf, who seized power in a 1999 military coup. "One would prefer that he's captured somewhere outside Pakistan, by some other people," he said in an October interview with Time magazine.

Counterterrorism officials and analysts said Pakistan serves not just as a hiding place but as an effective base of operations for al-Qaida and other Islamic radical networks, giving them the ability to plan or carry out attacks worldwide..."

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White House Seeks to Confirm Death of Al-Qaeda Commander

Dec. 4 (Bloomberg) -- The White House is trying to confirm reports that a senior al-Qaeda commander, Hamza Rabia, was killed in a missile attack on Pakistani tribal territory, a senior official said today.

Pakistan's Dawn newspaper reported yesterday, without saying where it obtained the information, that Rabia was among five killed in a missile attack in Asoray village, east of North Waziristan.

"We have seen those reports out of Pakistan," Stephen Hadley, President George W. Bush's national security adviser, said on Fox News. "At this point, we are not in a position publicly to confirm that he is dead. But we're obviously -- if he is, that's a good thing for the war on terror."

The Washington Post reported today that Pakistan's president, General Pervez Musharraf, said Rabia was killed on Thursday. Quoting Pakistani intelligence sources, the Post also reported that "U.S. operatives" fired a missile from an unmanned Predator drone.

To contact the reporter on this story
Vincent Del Giudice in Washington vdelgiudice@bloomberg.net

Last Updated: December 4, 2005 15:40 EST

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http://www.dawn.com/2005/12/05/top2.htm
Foreigners still in Waziristan, says minister


ISLAMABAD, Dec 4: Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao said on Sunday that the death in north-eastern Pakistan of an Egyptian described as a leading Al Qaeda operative was a big setback for the terror network.

"It is a big blow to Al Qaeda," Mr Sherpao told AFP, adding that operations were continuing to track down Al Qaeda members in North Waziristan where Hamza Rabia is said to have met his end.

Asked if other key Al Qaeda members were still hiding in the area, the minister replied: "We just don't know, but certainly there are some foreigners hiding there." Officials have said that Hamza was killed with four other militants while handling explosives late Wednesday.

But Al Arabiya television late Saturday said it had been contacted by a person claiming to be from Al Qaeda denying that Hamza was dead.

"An official from the Al Qaeda group has denied, in a telephone conversation with the Al Arabiya channel, that Hamza Rabia has been killed," a presenter on the Arab channel told viewers.

The caller said five people were killed in the explosion. There were two local men, two Tajiks and an Arab named Suleiman al-Moghrabi.

NBC News in the United States reported that Hamza was killed by a CIA missile attack.

According to a CIA list of most wanted Al Qaeda men operating in Pakistan and Afghanistan, Hamza has a $5 million bounty on his head.

According to the CIA, the English-speaking Egyptian was a close associate of Al Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri who is wanted in connection with 9/11 attacks.

President Pervez Musharraf insisted in Kuwait on Sunday that the head of operations for the Al Qaeda network has been killed.

"Yesterday I said (his death) was 200 per cent confirmed. Now, I say it is 500 per cent confirmed," Gen Musharraf told state-run Kuwait News Agency.

US National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley said on Sunday that Washington was looking into reports Hamza had been killed but could not confirm his death.

"(Hamza) was involved in planning two assassination plots against (President Pervez) Musharraf," Mr Hadley said. "So if he has been killed, that's a good thing for the war on terror.

"It's part of the effort to kill or capture the major Al Qaeda leadership."

Asked whether the US had helped ‘take out' Hamza, the adviser said: "We've obviously been supporting Pakistan.

"President Musharraf has been very aggressive in dealing with the Al Qaeda and Taliban presence in Pakistan.

"We have helped him in terms of providing intelligence and cooperating with his forces, and obviously this is something that would be an important thing for Pakistan, an important thing for the United States."—Agencies

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.S. deals a blow to al-Qaida in Pakistan

By Craig Whitlock and Kamran Khan

The Washington Post

Ayman el-Zawahri, shown here, used Hamza Rabia as a go-between.

KARACHI, Pakistan — The killing of a high-ranking al-Qaida commander in a U.S.-led operation in a remote corner of Pakistan marks an advance in the struggle to locate and eliminate the network's leadership, which has managed to replenish its ranks after suffering key losses in recent years, counterterrorism officials and experts said Saturday.

Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, said that Hamza Rabia, a top operational planner for al-Qaida, was killed Thursday in an explosion in a remote tribal area along the border with Afghanistan. Although there were conflicting reports about details of Rabia's death, Pakistani intelligence sources said U.S. operatives killed him and four others with a missile fired by an unmanned Predator drone.

Pakistani and U.S. officials described Rabia as a major figure in al-Qaida's murky hierarchy and said he would have been responsible for plotting large-scale attacks against U.S. or European targets. At the same time, however, his rapid rise in the network shows how al-Qaida has been able to regenerate after similar setbacks in the past.

Intelligence officials said Rabia, an Egyptian, had replaced Abu Faraj al-Libbi, another high-ranking al-Qaida leader captured in May in Pakistan. Al-Libbi, in turn, had taken over the role previously held by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the architect of the Sept. 11 attacks who was also caught in Pakistan in March 2003.

"It's a success story, but al-Qaida has turned into a multi-headed hydra: You chop off one head and another head takes its place," said Magnus Ranstorp, a specialist in al-Qaida at the Swedish National Defense College in Stockholm. "It's a good thing they got him, but I'm sure there are others in the wings."

And there is no indication that U.S. or Pakistani forces have come closer to locating their biggest targets: al-Qaida founder Osama bin Laden and his Egyptian deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, still believed to be hiding in the region.

The Bush administration had no public comment on Rabia's death. The administration has publicly praised Pakistan as a reliable partner in the fight against terrorism. But top U.S. officials have become increasingly frustrated with what they see as limited cooperation from the Pakistan military and intelligence services in the hunt for bin Laden.

In June, CIA Director Porter Goss said he had "an excellent idea" where bin Laden was hiding but complained that the al-Qaida leader had taken advantage of "sanctuaries in sovereign states" beyond American reach. Although Goss did not single out the Pakistani government as the problem, U.S. and European officials said bin Laden had almost certainly taken refuge in semiautonomous Pakistani tribal areas near the Afghan border.

Musharraf has recently acknowledged that he is not eager for bin Laden to be caught in his country, where he is seen as a hero to many Pakistanis and probably is more popular than Musharraf, who seized power in a 1999 military coup. "One would prefer that he's captured somewhere outside Pakistan, by some other people," he said in an October interview with Time magazine.

Counterterrorism officials and analysts said Pakistan serves not just as a hiding place but as an effective base of operations for al-Qaida and other Islamic radical networks, giving them the ability to plan or carry out attacks worldwide.

British investigators have found that some of the suicide bombers responsible for the July 7 subway and bus bombings in London had spent time in Pakistan before the attacks. U.S. officials have also complained that Taliban forces fighting the U.S. military in Afghanistan are able to regroup and find fresh recruits across the border in Pakistan.

"The real point here is that Musharraf is not making any dent in the issue that matters — which is that the extremists are still operating rather freely in Pakistan and feel as comfortable there as ever," said M.J. Gohel, chief executive of the Asia-Pacific Foundation, a London think tank that specializes in security issues in South Asia. "What you need is to completely eradicate and eliminate the entire extremist infrastructure, but nothing has been done there. What has been done is the capture of individuals now and then to please Washington."

The United States and Pakistan recorded a series of high-profile captures in the months immediately following the Sept. 11 attacks. Abu Zubaydah, a top al-Qaida recruiter and member of bin Laden's inner circle, was arrested in Faisalabad in March 2002. Ramzi Binalshibh, a key Sept. 11 plotter, was caught in Karachi in September 2002. Six months later, Pakistani agents grabbed Mohammed while he was sleeping in a house in Rawalpindi, not far from the headquarters of the Pakistani military.

The arrests fueled hopes that investigators were closing in on bin Laden and would be able to completely dismantle the al-Qaida central leadership. But in the last two years, the search for ranking al-Qaida figures has sputtered while others have emerged to lead terrorist attacks elsewhere.

Rabia, an Egyptian, was killed Thursday along with four associates in a missile strike in the tribal region of North Waziristan, officials and a witness said Saturday. The incident was first reported by the Pakistani newspaper Dawn, which cited witnesses in asserting that the men had been killed by rockets fired by an unmanned U.S. surveillance drone known as a Predator.

In public statements, Pakistani officials declined to say whether Rabia had been killed by an American missile, although several privately confirmed the report. The use of such tactics is highly controversial in Pakistan, especially in the remote tribal areas where there is strong opposition to the presence of any U.S. military forces.

"Here is what I can tell you: Our troops were not involved in the operation, but this is one of the areas where our intelligence and operational cooperation with U.S. services is most intense," said a senior Pakistani intelligence official in the northwestern city of Peshawar, which is near North Waziristan.

"Comments on media reports that it was a Predator strike would invoke sovereignty issues," the official added. "Let's enjoy the fact that al-Qaida has lost another key person."

Rabia's name does not appear on the FBI's list of most wanted terrorists. But Pakistani officials described him as a major catch and a close associate of al-Zawahri, the second-ranking al-Qaida leader and a fellow Egyptian.

They said Rabia has been the focus of an intense manhunt since the arrest in Pakistan last May of al-Libbi, a Libyan who U.S. intelligence sources described at the time as al-Qaida's third-ranking leader. Al-Libbi and Rabia are suspected of orchestrating two assassination attempts against Musharraf in 2003.

The interrogation of Libbi by U.S. and Pakistani intelligence operatives "confirmed that Abu Hamza Rabia was in touch with Ayman al-Zawahri and he was an important connection between al-Zawahri and various al-Qaida cells, at least until last year," said another Pakistani intelligence official, who is involved in counterterrorism work in the tribal areas. The official added that contact between Rabia and al-Zawahri appears to have ceased during the past several months.

A third Pakistani intelligence official said that for the past few months, Rabia had been "playing hide-and-seek with the Americans, who were on his tail. He was a fast mover who shuttled between the tribal areas and Afghan border areas frequently."

According to Dawn, Rabia died along with four other men, two of them also Arabs, when an explosion destroyed the mud-walled compound where they were staying in the village of Asoray near Miran Shah, the administrative capital of North Waziristan. Local authorities claimed the men died while making bombs. But the newspaper cited witnesses who said the house was destroyed by missiles around 1:45 a.m.

Spokesmen for the U.S. military and the U.S. embassy in Islamabad said they had no information on Rabia or the circumstances of his death.

Washington Post reporter Dafna Linzer and researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report

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http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-terror4dec04,1,1474378.story?coll=la-headlines-world

THE WORLD

Senior Leader of Al Qaeda Is Killed in Blast

Egyptian believed responsible for global planning died last week in Pakistan, government says. The circumstances of his death are unclear.

By Paul Watson and Ken Silverstein
Times Staff Writers

December 4, 2005

NEW DELHI — An Egyptian believed to be commander of Al Qaeda international terrorism operations was killed last week in Pakistan's mountainous border region near Afghanistan, President Pervez Musharraf said Saturday.

Abu Hamza Rabia died Thursday in an explosion in the tribal area of North Waziristan, Musharraf told reporters during an official visit to Kuwait.

Pakistani Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, who was traveling with Musharraf, described Rabia as either No. 3 or No. 5 in the Al Qaeda hierarchy. In Washington, a senior U.S. counter-terrorism official agreed that Rabia was responsible for international planning, including operations against the United States.

"People like to put numbers on these people and we try to stay away from that," said the counter-terrorism official. "But no one would take issue with [Rabia] being described as the No. 3 behind [Osama] bin Laden and [Ayman] Zawahiri. He's a senior member of Al Qaeda and this is a significant blow to them."

At the same time, other experts cautioned that the killing was likely to have a limited effect because Al Qaeda is less a hierarchical organization and more a movement that can carry out missions without direction from top leaders.

Pakistani and American officials have said they believe Bin Laden is alive and probably hiding somewhere along the rugged border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. His top lieutenant, the Egyptian Zawahiri, has tried to rally the network's supporters in several recent video and audio tapes.

Rabia is said to have taken over Al Qaeda's international operations after the capture of Libyan Abu Faraj Farj in early May. Farj was handed over to U.S. authorities a month later, and his whereabouts have not been disclosed. Farj had been seen as the successor to Sept. 11 planner Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who was captured in Pakistan in 2003.

Contrasting reports quickly emerged about the circumstances surrounding Rabia's death.

Pakistani authorities said Rabia was killed along with five other militants when bomb-making material exploded in a house where they were hiding in the village of Asoray, east of Miram Shah, the region's administrative capital.

However, Pakistan's English-language Dawn newspaper reported that the explosions were caused by several missiles from a drone around 1:45 a.m. Thursday.

Residents heard six explosions, and "three foreigners of Middle Eastern origin," including Rabia, were later pulled from the rubble and buried in an undisclosed location, according to the Dawn report. It quoted unnamed "officials and tribal witnesses."

The U.S. has repeatedly flown drones armed with missiles along the rugged border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. But armed operations by foreign forces are a sensitive political issue for Musharraf, so if the U.S. was involved in Rabia's death, Pakistan's government would be unlikely to confirm it.

Rabia suffered a slight leg wound in a similar attack on Nov. 5 that killed eight people, including his wife and children, the Dawn report said.

Pakistan has called Rabia one of a group of extremists involved in attempts to assassinate Musharraf in 2003. In August 2004, the government offered rewards for Rabia and others, with experts saying at that time that Rabia ranked eighth in Al Qaeda's hierarchy.

Several counter-terrorism specialists Saturday questioned the usefulness of such rankings.

"We need to shy away from rank ordering these guys, other than Bin Laden and Zawahiri," said Roger W. Cressey, a former White House counter-terrorism official in the Bush and Clinton administrations. "But clearly, he was upper tier and a significant figure. He's one of the people who was involved in planning and operational management, and anytime you get one of these guys you are hurting their ability to target the United States."

However, Cressey warned, "These guys don't need links to what's left of Al Qaeda to carry out attacks."

W. Patrick Lang, a former senior official with the Defense Intelligence Agency, agreed that militants would not necessarily be stymied by the loss of a leader.

"The death of a particular personality is a problem for them, but it's something they are likely to overcome," Lang said. "This is a movement, a large-scale phenomenon. If you killed Osama bin Laden, you wouldn't stop the movement. We are going to have to deal with these people for a long time."

At the time of Farj's arrest, Pakistan's government called it the most important capture of a senior Al Qaeda leader since that of Mohammed. When Farj was still at large, senior Pakistani intelligence officers insisted he was more of a regional commander than an international terrorist in Mohammed's league.

Musharraf has repeatedly said that numerous raids and military offensives in the Pushtun tribal areas of North and South Waziristan have severely disrupted Al Qaeda's ability to plan and carry out terrorist attacks.

Those plotting to kill Musharraf have also included low-ranking members of Pakistan's military. In August, several people accused of attempts on Musharraf's life, including two bomb attacks on his convoy in December 2003, were sentenced to hang by a military court-martial.

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MIM: For their part Al Qaeda rejects the claims of Rabia's death. Apparently Al Qaeda is happy to disclose the names of terrorists already 'expended'. Their attempts to garner 15 minutes of fame for dead terrorists backfired last month when they disclosed that a husband wife team were 2 of the bombers- which led police in Jordan to capture the woman who had not detonated. In the case of terrorists killed from outside - the preferred MO is denial.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Qaeda denies Rabia's death

DUBAI: Al Qaeda has denied the death of top operational commander Hamza Rabia, Al-Arabiya Television channel reported on Saturday. The channel said that it had been contacted by a person claiming to be from Qaeda, who denied that Rabia had been killed in Pakistan. "An official from the Qaeda group has denied, in a telephone conversation with the Al-Arabiya channel, that Hamza Rabia has been killed," a presenter on the Arab satellite channel told viewers. The caller said five people were killed in a blast but these were two local men, two Tajiks and an Arab, Suleiman al-Moghrabi. afp

MIM: 'One again Waziristan is the focus of terrorist activity albeit the retirement kind. Surrenders' usually come at a price to the US taxpayer. In a recent article in Rolling Stone magazine a Jihad terrorist from Yeman said he had been summoned by the president together with others like him and was addressed as "my sons" and promised substantial funding to stop their terrorist activities. Which begs the question as to what the going rate is in Pakistan.

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2005\12\04\story_4-12-2005_pg1_9

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Suspected Qaeda supporter surrenders in N Waziristan

By Iqbal Khattak

PESHAWAR: A senior suspected Al Qaeda and Taliban supporter in North Waziristan has surrendered to the government, a senior administration official said on Saturday.

Maulana Ajab Noor, a former resistance commander against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1980s, has pledged allegiance to the anti-terror war.

The administration official in Miranshah said that Noor, along with hundreds of supporters, had surrendered to the political administration. "I and my comrades fully support the government's policies against foreign elements and will remain loyal to the country," Noor declared during the ceremony at a seminary in Khaisor, 10 kilometres south of Mir Ali, the town where top Al Qaeda commander Hamza Rabia and two other foreign militants were killed on December 1.

Senior administration officials attended the ceremony and praised the former resistance commander's support to the government.

Noor, 55, assured the government that he will not shelter foreign terrorists linked to Al Qaeda and the Taliban, the official said.

Military spokesman Maj Gen Shaukat Sultan welcomed Noor's surrender and hoped that the government will soon prevail in the war against terror in North Waziristan with the support of the local population. "It (Noor's surrender) signifies that the government is also involving the tribal elders to support the operation against militants," he said. Noor's support comes in the wake of the surrender of 34 wanted tribal militants in Miranshah on November 28.

Meanwhile, Sultan said that the identity of the two other foreigners killed in the explosion in Mir Ali on December 1 had not yet been established. "The bodies of the three foreigners are in the security forces' custody," he said.

The administration official said that only three men, including Maulana Sadiq Noor, on the government's list of wanted men were still on the run.

This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/1354