PESHAWAR: A senior al-Qaeda operative and possibly the number two of the terror network, Atiyah Abdur Rahman, has reportedly been killed in a drone attack in North Waziristan on August 22.
Pakistani security officials and tribal sources in North Waziristan, however, did not have any information about the al-Qaeda leader and his presence in Pakistan. The American media, quoting senior US administration officials, reported that Atiyah Abdur Rahman was living in a house in North Waziristan and was killed along with other militants when a drone hit the same house on August 22.
Before his elevation to the was reportedly an operation chief of the terror network in Pakistan. Libyan by nationality, Atiyah Abdur Rahman had replaced the Egyptian doctor Ayman al-Zawahiri, who became al-Qaeda chief after founding leader of the militant network Osama bin Laden was killed in operation by US Special Forces in Abbottabad on May 2.
Tribal sources in North Waziristan said the US drone had carried two missile strikes in North Waziristan on August 22. In the first attack, the drone had fired two missiles and hit a house at Khaisura village in Mir Ali subdivision and killed six people — three men, two children and a lady.
Local villagers said an Arab family was residing in the house and all those died in the missile attack were Arab nationals. But there was no information about nationality of the slain people. Interestingly, this attack was not reported in the media.
In the second attack, also on August 22 and same evening, the drone hit a house and car and killed five men at Sheenpond village near the border with Khost province of Afghanistan. All the five people died in the attack were reportedly foreign fighters. But as usual, there was no way to ascertain identity of the slain people.
Though tribesmen in Mir Ali did not know about Atiyah Abdur Rahman and his background before, they believed if he was really killed in the drone attack, then he might have been killed at Khaisura village along with his family.
“Most of these Arab fighters live with their families in the tribal areas and if he has really been killed here then he might have killed in Khaisura village,” a tribesman in Mir Ali said. He said neither Pakistani security officials nor common tribesmen could go to see who were killed in the drone attack.
He said that only the militants and their likeminded tribesmen usually took part in rescue work and retrieved bodies of the slain people from the debris of the buildings hit by the drone. “The bodies or remains of foreign fighters are secretly buried at a separate graveyards,” he said.