A U.S. drone strike has killed a senior al-Qaida leader in Pakistan’s tribal region near the Afghan border, Pakistani intelligence officials said, in the latest blow to the Islamic militant network.
Sheik Khalid bin Abdel Rehman al-Hussainan, who was also known as Abu Zaid al-Kuwaiti, was killed when missiles slammed into a house Thursday near Mir Ali, one of the main towns in the North Waziristan tribal area, the officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
Al-Kuwaiti appeared in many videos released by al-Qaida’s media wing, Al-Sahab, and was presented as a religious scholar for the group.
Earlier this year, he replaced Abu Yahya al-Libi, al-Qaida’s second in command, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in North Waziristan in June, the intelligence officials said. Al-Libi was a key religious figure within al-Qaida and also a prominent militant commander.
Al-Kuwaiti appeared to be a less prominent figure and was not part of the U.S. State Department’s list of most wanted terrorist suspects, as al-Libi had been.
Tribal sources from Pakistan’s northwest said on Saturday a U.S. drone attack had killed a senior al Qaeda commander in the latest blow to the militant Islamist group that has been targeted in many similar attacks.
Abu Zaid was killed, along with 10 other people, in the drone strike on a hideout in Pakistan’s North Waziristan, one of the tribal regions near the border with Afghanistan, early on Thursday, the sources said. Zaid had just moved to the hideout a few days ago, they said.
Pakistani security officials based in North Waziristan said they were aware of the death of a senior al Qaeda commander but could not confirm his identity or rank.
Zaid replaced Abu Yahya al-Libi as one of al Qaeda’s most powerful figures in June after Libi was killed by a U.S. drone strike.