PESHAWAR: A senior Pakistani militant leader, Badar Mansoor, is believed to have been killed along with three other fighters in a US drone attack early Thursday at Miramshah, the headquarters of North Waziristan tribal region.
“The US drone fired two missiles at a small Hujra where Badar Mansoor was staying along with three other militants. He and three other guests who had come to meet him were killed in the attack while his two wives and a daughter asleep in an adjacent house sustained injuries,” a source close to the Pakistani militants told this correspondent.
Some reports said Badar Mansoor, his wife and three guests were killed in the drone attack, but sources close to the Pakistani Taliban did not confirm this information. Taliban sources said that Badar Mansoor was living there for the past several years along with his family but he never fought against the Pakistani security forces. He had close ties with foreign militants and was fighting against the US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan. Americans that they exaggerate importance of the people who die in drone attacks,” the tribesman noted.
Meanwhile, the Pakistani Taliban denied that Badar Mansoor had replaced Ilyas Kashmiri, the leader of Harkatul Jehadul Islami (HUJI), reportedly killed in a US drone attack along with 13 other militants on June 4, 2011 in Wana, the main town of South Waziristan. Badar Mansoor reportedly became the leader of a small group of militants mostly hailing from the Punjab and Sindh provinces after Qari Zafar died in a mysterious blast caused by an improvised explosive device inside his small Hujra at Peerano Killay of Darga Mandi area, located about six kilometres west of Miramshah on the Miramshah-Ghulam Khan Road on June 7, 2010. Qari Zafar was part of the hardline “Takfiri group” within the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and reportedly had close links with al-Qaeda.
Qari Zafar was wanted by the United States for his alleged involvement in the attack on the US Consulate in Karachi on March 2, 2006.
Mazhar Tufail adds from Islamabad: A TTP commander said Fakher Zaman alias Badar Mansoor along with four other commanders was killed in the drone attack. In a telephone call, the TTP commander said that Badar Mansoor had formed the Al-Badar group under the umbrella of the TTP and al-Qaeda in 2008.
According to security officials, Badar Mansoor, who belonged to the Punjab, had initially established the Punjabi Taliban faction before moving to the Waziristan area. “In his group, 2,000 militants are working, with 350 being hardcore fighters. He was the mastermind of many terrorist activities in Pakistan,” said an official requesting anonymity.
“Badar and others had gathered at the house of Qari Imran at Zafar Colony market in Miramshah when a drone fired missiles at the house,” the Taliban commander said. Three other commanders killed in the drone attack were identified as Qari Imran, Qari Mushtaq and Qari Khurasani while the identity of the fourth could not be ascertained.
AFP adds: Badar Mansoor was the most senior Pakistani in al-Qaeda, one of the Americans’ main targets in the country and wanted for attacks that killed scores of people, officials told AFP.
They said Badar Mansoor sent fighters to Afghanistan and ran a training camp in North Waziristan. “His death is a major blow to al-Qaeda’s abilities to strike in Pakistan,” a senior Pakistani official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The senior Pakistani intelligence official described Mansoor as the “de facto leader of al-Qaeda in Pakistan” after his predecessor, Ilyas Kashmiri, was reported killed in a drone strike last June.
Unlike Kashmiri, who had a $5 million bounty on his head, Mansoor is not listed on the US State Department Rewards for Justice list. There was no immediate confirmation of his death from the United States.
But one Western counter-terrorism expert described Mansoor as the local chief of al-Qaeda and one of the Americans’ chief targets in Pakistan. “If it’s true, this is very good news for the anti-terrorism fight, and this was very important for both the US and Pakistan,” the official said.
He called Mansoor al-Qaeda’s go-between with Pakistan’s umbrella Taliban movement and a member of al-Qaeda’s leadership shura in Pakistan. “Western officials believed he was involved in sending fighters to Afghanistan,” the senior Pakistani official told —AFP.