Al Qaeda chief of operations killed in Pakistan: US official

Published: September 16, 2011
Death poses new challenge to Ayman al Zawahiri. PHOTO: FILE

Death poses new challenge to Ayman al Zawahiri. PHOTO: FILE


US officials believe al Qaeda chief of operations Abu Hafs al Shahri was killed in Pakistan earlier in the week.

According to a US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, al Shahri’s death is yet another ‘serious blow’ to al Qaeda’s core group in Pakistan. Al Shahri played a “key operational and administrative role for the group,” the US official added.

Al Shahri’s death would also pose a challenge for Ayman al Zawahiri, long-time al Qaeda number two and believed to be at the helm of the organisation after Bin Laden’s death in Abbottabad. On Wednesday, a Pentagon official said he believed al Zawahiri was still in Pakistan, following the release of a video in which Osama bin Laden’s successor blasts the United States.

“We have no information to indicate that he is anywhere else than in Pakistan,” Pentagon spokesman George Little said. Speaking to The Express Tribune, the US official said that Abu Hafs al Shahri was a contender to assume al Qaeda’s second in command Atiyah Abd al Rahman’s duties. Shahri “coordinated al Qaeda’s anti-US plots in the region, and worked closely with the Pakistani Taliban to carry out attacks inside Pakistan.”

The US official did not comment on the circumstances leading to al Shahri’s death, however earlier this week on September 11, the media reported that at least three people killed in a drone strike in North Waziristan. On August 22, another US drone strike in North Waziristan led to the death of al Qaeda second in command Atiyah Abd al Rahman.

Another senior US administration official confirmed al Shahri’s death in Waziristan to The Express Tribune. “Abu Hafs’ death will further degrade al Qaeda’s ability to recover from the death of Atiyah in August because of his operations experience and connections within the group. Abu Hafs’ death removes a key threat inside Pakistan, where he collaborated closely with Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan to conduct coordinated attacks.” (Additional input from AFP)

Published in The Express Tribune, September 16th,  2011.

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Reader Comments (28)

  • Cautious
    Sep 15, 2011 - 9:55PM

    Good riddance! Keep those drones coming.


  • Imran Mohammad
    Sep 15, 2011 - 10:06PM

    Who the hell was he? When will US run out of alphabet soup to concoct all these names. This all seems like a baloney to me.


  • Bangash
    Sep 15, 2011 - 10:43PM

    Hopefully this will reduce suicide bombings in Pakistan.


  • Majid
    Sep 15, 2011 - 10:52PM

    Thank you America for doing for taking out our enemies for us, and that too free of cost. Keep these drones coming until the last of these barbarians is dead or has come to his senses.


  • Doctor
    Sep 15, 2011 - 11:41PM

    Go drones go! So much for Imran Khan, the PTI, and them trying to tell innocent Pakistanis that this isn’t “our war”. Go back to focusing on doing good deeds by starting more cancer hospitals Imran, your talents would be better used there rather than leading Pakistan down the well to doom.


  • Sep 15, 2011 - 11:42PM

    Hey I have a question.

    Why these leaders are killed by USA only? and in Pakistan?

    You think it is not a question?


  • Noor
    Sep 15, 2011 - 11:49PM

    Oh really ? Mr majid wht else do u think abt american policies? Well …biggest enemies of Pakistan r not these talibans but MQM , PPP, ANP and all d political parties..but I am sure America will keep on increasing new enemies of Pakistan !!
    Remember no Pakistan was involved in tht 9/11 !!!


  • SaudiRules
    Sep 16, 2011 - 12:09AM

    Thank you america for doing the job of our brave army! kakhi are too busy dealing in real estate.


  • Ahsan
    Sep 16, 2011 - 12:28AM

    Its the part of 9/11 drama which Zions are directing, still to be continue


  • shouvik mukherjee
    Sep 16, 2011 - 1:05AM

    AND thinking deeply about deepening the strategic depth!


  • lady gaga
    Sep 16, 2011 - 2:14AM

    @Real Hyder: the answer is because we are not doing the job ourselves – we are to busy providing 5 star homes to osama uncle


  • lady gaga
    Sep 16, 2011 - 2:16AM

    @Noor: correct no pakistani was involved in the hijacking but the masterminds were pakistani KSM etc… also the london and madrid bombings also originated from pakistan


  • AnisAqeel
    Sep 16, 2011 - 4:04AM

    @Real Hyder:
    “Why these leaders are killed by USA only? and in Pakistan?”
    Because we are the one who have them with impunity and protection. We don’t kill our protected buddies as it is against our ‘Isalam’ otherwise we know where they are and why they are! And now they are our strategic assets, we live on them.


  • Majid
    Sep 16, 2011 - 4:44AM

    @Noor: I’m not a big fan of Pakistani political parties either. They also pose substantial threat to the country’s future due to their backwardness, but the threat from taliban is immediate and lethal. I’d compare political parties to morbid obesity. It may increase the probability of a heart attack whereas the taliban is comparable to a continuous bites from poisonous snakes.


  • bashir
    Sep 16, 2011 - 7:20AM

    Drones are biggest terror for terrorists. If Pak army is unable to figh them then let the drones do it. America should increase the intensity in the ‘safe havens’


  • Mirza
    Sep 16, 2011 - 8:19AM

    The timing of these killings is suspicious. Gen Kayani is going to meet the US army chief in a few hours in Spain. Is Pakistani army trying to make amends after being caught in bed with OBL by Americans? The real test would come when the army takes action against more known terrorists in Pakistan.


  • Sep 16, 2011 - 9:28AM

    @ladin, anis.

    Who said you that Osama was at Pakistan? Did you see? Did americans see? Obama see? Their army have seen the Osama?
    Just believing on obama. How you can believe him??
    This is not I’m saying, but Gen. Hamid Gul and many others also saying this.Recommend

  • Noor
    Sep 16, 2011 - 10:08AM

    @lady gaga:
    Masterminds were pakistanis ? Oh ! Thts a new fact for me …
    Well lady gaga : u need to follow Hilary Clinton’s and obama’s exaggerated interviews and speeches ..Clinton already said tht ‘talibans and Al qaeda these are our creation,and now we want the World to help us..’
    I don’t knw why there iz so much misunderstanding about pakistanis..those who r pointing fingers on my people ..I guess they really need to read history ..
    Pakistan is ‘blessed’ with the world’s biggest refuge : ‘Afghanis’
    now to tell u the truth most of the northern areas are being ruled by them the Afghan Pathans we have are totally different from our Pathans (I don’t wanna go in detail..coz Aghanistan’s president loves to blame Pakistan) for even his wrong policies!!

    Coming back to the point : as u knew tht pakistanis were involved in 9/11 so dont u knw tht some international countries export terrorist and illegal weapons to Pakistan ?
    point out fingers..bcoz criticism is important ‘But wid correct facts’
    now tht Mumbai blast : yes ..tht ‘kasab’ guy was a Pakistani and he was paid for all this when he is already telling the truth so Indian govt should charge cases against all of those criminals …bcoz thts how ‘law goes on ‘ ..they can kill him ..coz imprisonment is a legal punishment but in some countries execution is allowed ! He forgot his morals ..he is a criminal ..& I don’t hold any sympathy 4 ‘kasab’ or any other stuff like tht

    My first comment is not here coz I think it reflected the truth about America and wrong American/ Pakistani policies
    so 4 the admin : it wasn’t tht controversial was the truth and I do hve the right to highlight truth..I am not a politician but just a simple citizen !! Recommend

  • Noor
    Sep 16, 2011 - 6:54PM

    alright !!!!!

    @ lady gaga : y do we use cool short forms for terrorists? KSM !! i think we should be brave enough to spell their full names ..
    ok KHALID SHEIKH MOHAMMAD = now let me tell u something about him… this man was born to Pakistani parents in Kuwait, his brought up was in Kuwait..and he did his high school from there .. later on he went to USA and graduated in bachelors of Science.. It is said tht he belonged to a Balochi family …
    but all of his details prove that he knows little about PAKISTAN ..bcoz of his brought up in ‘Kuwait’

    for example my parents are pakistani,but my brought up was in Britain…I am involved in criminal activities such as ‘slapping British people’ (thts also known as ‘BATTERY.’) and ‘ stealing their wallets..’ so what do u think..which courts will deal this case PAKISTANI COURTS ? OR UK COURTS?
    i am using resources of UK ..but i am attracted to know about Pakistan coz of my ancestors… (THIS WAS JUST AN EXAMPLE)

    Miss gaga : u tend to follow news alot.. but please follow the true facts has ruined the image of my country but in actual the fault lies some where else…



  • Noor
    Sep 16, 2011 - 7:06PM

    well ..Talibans had nothing to do with Pakistan.. and u even know their main targets? right
    they r our enemy coz of our fault.. our interruption in their mission just for dollars?
    I dont care about dollars and the money USA is giving to PAKISTAN ..bcoz in return they are involving themselves in activities such as ‘violation of borders.’
    it’s against dignity of a land ..! our army can even carry out these operation ..but they won’t coz of this GOVERNMENT..

    this is the worst govt ever in the history of PAKISTAN…but drones r illegal..



    secondly the main enemies of Pakistan r our leaders ! coz they are the one who r following wrong policies..if they were honest with my they could have taken strong actions to stop violence,bloodshed and injustice Recommend

  • Mirza
    Sep 16, 2011 - 8:19PM

    @Real Hyder: I would agree with you only if and when Pakistani generals and ISI refutes the US claims. Are you saying that there is no official in the army of Islamic Republic of Pakistan who can stand up and tell the “truth”? Hiding facts from the public who pays for their salaries and perks is treason.

  • Aamir
    Sep 16, 2011 - 10:14PM

    The fault line is in Pakistan my dear. Near Bannu there is a village with thousands of Saudis living there. In North waziristan, Uzbeks and Chechens are in thousands. None of them registered. Of course they were brought here with US backing during afghan war but now they are killing us. For them everyone against them is Kafir and they vow to kill them or else they need their style of government.
    If these TTP and Al Qaeda elements are so innocent, then why have they targetted Pakistan after Osama’s killing in which Pakistan had nothing to do.


  • Aamir
    Sep 16, 2011 - 10:15PM

    @Real Hyder:
    If Osama was not killed in Pakistan, then why did TTP and Al Qaeda retaliated by attacking Pakistan (Fronteir Corp academy, Naval base etc etc) and claimed it for revenge of Osama’s killing???


  • Noor
    Sep 17, 2011 - 12:46PM

    @ Mr Aamir : I am a Pakistani and ofcourse I knw all these things.. Al shamsi stuff..jacabobad post..etc etc !! ( don’t wanna go in details) Who is saying tht Al Qaeda iz innocent? They r bunch of aggressive ppl..who r just taking revenge!!! Don’t u knw how CIA treats innocent ppl ? They can easily change d personality of a normal person ..
    I hve no issues wid Americans.. I hve issues wid mr Obama & his biased policy !
    If terrorism is illegal ..then drones r d same thing !!
    Think positively..
    Thts good tht they killed a terrorist ? But did he even exist? ..what were his future plans 4 America, What were his interests..targets.. , how did they track long it took??? Etc etc.. NATO needs to reveal the true facts !!!!
    The US officials are avoiding interviews on this news..they r not commenting on the circumstances … WHY ? Recommend

  • Noor
    Sep 17, 2011 - 1:02PM

    for example I am reading a novel and some1 directly slaps me on my face..wht do u think I will do..will I sit like a monkey & glare at him/her …No ! Ofcorse I am going to slap tht person … ( if he is a ‘Male’ Then he is definately dead, no doubts abt tht :D )

    thts wht terriorists r doing …do u knw there r more terrorists in India then in Pakistan…they r not attacking India ..bcoz Indian govt has signed a pact wid them .. Shiv sins he is not a real terrorist but the way he was threatening Pakistani cricket team ..proves tht he is deeply involved in politics and revenge stuff … He directly announced tht ‘ Pak team will need permission from me or else they will hve to face me ..’

    Well but Indian govt never did anything to him…Though they knew shiv sina’s intention !!

    Dude ..Pakistan is blessed with a nice geographical location…this thing tempts America..Israel as well as Al Qaeda …USA wanna use pak’s key position as their base in fighting terrorism & then most probably helping Israelis in future … Whereas Talibans/Al Qaeda wanna take over so tht they can prove their influence and power all over the World !!

    Pakistan is stuck btw these two situations…if v get a good leader or most probably some 1 from our youth …then definately thinks will change (Insh’a Allah)


  • Haq saab
    Sep 17, 2011 - 5:37PM

    All terrorist in Pakistan must be dealt with an iron fist policy .Recommend

  • Sep 17, 2011 - 8:02PM

    @all. There is no Al-Quida nor Ikhwanul-Muslimeen.
    It is only america and india backed force, calling themselves TTP or AL-Quida.
    We must understand this drama and should stand against it.


  • lady gaga
    Sep 18, 2011 - 1:15AM

    @ Real Hyder – My dear Hyder we must stop these pathetic conspiracy theories. If they are all americans and indians then why does our government and our judicial system FAIL to convict them.
    Up to 80% of all terror suspects go free – this is a fact. Look at the terrorist that murdered Salmaan Taseer – he is a national hero. If this guy is a RAW agent or CIA lets hang him tomorrow. But will not because he is a Paki.
    Why is the guy that was caught attacking the Ahmadis not convicted?

    The reason is that in 90% of cases these are pakistanis backed by mullahs
    I am sick and tired of our conspiracy theories – my favourite is the one where Steven Speilberg is a secret Ahmadi and forged the video against out respected Aalim on line.

    Pakistan will never move forward until we stop blaming the rest of the world for our problems and stop the Mullah and his faith of Hate Recommend

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