Two Al-Qaeda leaders killed Friday in drone strike led by CIA

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Jennifer Werner
jwerner2@radford.edu

Performing an operation along the borders of Pakistan on Tuesday, Sept 27 in the eastern Paktia province’s Jani Khel district, NATO captured a senior leader of the Haqqani network, Haji Mali Kahn. Khan surrendered without resistance. NATO captured his bodyguard and deputy as well as several other insurgents. The Haqqani network is closely allied with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

“He was one of the highest ranking members of the Haqqani network and a revered elder of the Haqqani clan,”said NATO. “He worked directly under Siraj Haqqani and managed bases and oversight of operations in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Khan also moved forces from Pakistan to Afghanistan to conduct terrorist activity.”

Three days later, on Sept. 30, a CIA-led drone strike killed Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born cleric and digital jihadist, at his hideout in Yemen. A joint FBI and Department of Homeland Security bulletin claimed that al-Awlaki “was the inspiration for countless plots in the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia.”

Federal authorities are afraid that the strike will cause revenge attacks.

The strike also killed Saudi-born, Samir Khan. Raised in New York, Khan was the editor of the English language publication of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, “Inspire” magazine. According to U.S. intelligence officials, Khan was a “rising figure in jihadist propaganda.”

Khan is linked to other jihadists including Somali-American, Mohamed Osman Mohamud, who was arrested by FBI officials and was accused of attempting to detonate what was believed to have been a car bomb in Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square from a cellular device during a Christmas lighting event in Portland, Oregon. According to an FBI affidavit, Mohamud is alleged to have admitted to writing four articles since 2004 for the jihadist magazine.

According to ABC News, Khan had edited seven separate issues of “Inspire.” The publication had several sermons by different jihadist figures including al-Awlaki who enthusiastically described the plan for the “printer cargo” plane plot that failed.

On Saturday, Oct. 1, the state department issued a travel alert following the death of al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, warning people of the possibility of attacks against Americans.

“The death of Awlaki, in the near term, could provide motivation for anti-American attacks world-wide from individuals or groups seeking to retaliate against US citizens or interests because of this action,” said the state department.