LAHORE: The Pakistan chapter of al-Qaeda has suffered a major setback with the death of commander Badar Mansoor, a key jihadi leader who had replaced Ccmmander Ilyas Kashmiri after his yet-to-be confirmed death in an American drone attack in June 2011. Considered to be the de facto leader of al-Qaeda in Pakistan, Badar’s killing in an American drone strike has just been confirmed by none other than al-Qaeda.
The confirmation of Badar’s death came on March 10 in a video statement released by al-Qaeda on a Jihadi Internet forum, saying that commander Badar Mansoor was killed on February 9, 2012 in an American drone attack which targeted him close to the Pak-Afghan border.
Hailing from Dera Ghazi Khan district of the Punjab, Badar was killed in the Miramshah area of North Waziristan where he had set up his own Jihadi training camp. His Abdullah Azzam Training Centre is named after Abdullah Azzam, a Palestinian and one-time spiritual mentor of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.
Badar was not only a go-between the Shura leadership of Tehrik-e-Taliban and al-Qaeda in Pakistan but also involved in sending fighters to Afghanistan to fight out the US-led allied forces. He not only used to train young Jihadis from Pakistan and abroad as suicide bombers but was also accused of masterminding several deadly Fidayeen attacks targeting the Ahmadi and Shia communities in Lahore and Karachi.
Sources in the security establishment say the February 9 drone strike [killing Badar] was carried out on a tip off provided by the Pakistani intelligence community, as had been the case with the January 10 drone attack in Miramshah, which killed Aslam Awan, a Pakistani jihadi involved with the external operations network of al-Qaeda. Badar was originally a former member of Harkatul Mujahideen (HuM) led by Maulana Fazalur Rehman Khalil, the jihadi linchpin from Pakistan with a record of closeness to bin Laden.
Believed to be a Wahabi member of Osama’s International Islamic Front (IIF) for “Jihad Against the Crusaders and the Jewish People” and a co-signatory of bin Laden’s first fatwa issued in 1998 calling for attacks against the United States, Khalil and Badar were in the al-Qaeda training camps when they were hit by US cruise missiles in Khost and Jalalabad in August 1998.
Despite having parted way with Maulana Khalil several years ago, Badar Mansoor had been using his ties to the Harkatul Mujahideen and the Tehrik-e-Taliban to recruit from their ranks, train them, and induct them into al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda took full month before announcing the death of Badar in an American drone attack. The announcement was made by Ustad Ahmad Farooq, al-Qaeda’s spokesman for Pakistan whose video eulogy for Mansoor focused on Pakistan’s complicity in US drone campaign.
Interestingly, Ustad Farooq himself was rumoured to have been killed in a US drone strike in June 2011 along with Ilyas Kashmiri who was thought to have been killed but has recently been spotted meeting with Taliban leader Hakeemullah Mehsud. While praising [in his video speech] the efforts made by Badar to uphold the cause of Islam, Ustad has bitterly criticised the Pakistan government for supporting US drone strikes. Farooq described the rupture between the US and Pakistan after the Salala attack of November 26, 2011 as a mere “eye-wash.”
Describing Badar Mansoor as the brave son of this soil, a gem of the Muslim Ummah, a great military commander and a beloved personality of local and emigrant mujahideen, Ustad Farooq regretted that he was martyred in a drone attack carried out with the help of intelligence inputs provided by the Pakistani intelligence agencies. He claimed that Badar was targeted by a US drone along with his family, which left his wife wounded.
“On one hand, the Pakistani government is dramatizing the tensions with the US, and on the other hand, it is helping the Americans to kill Pakistani people in tribal areas to appease their masters. We know that this drama of Pak-US strained ties is being orchestrated to regain the army’s image that suffered immensely during last ten years of its anti-jihad campaign in the tribal areas, Swat and Balochistan. In fact, the US-led drone campaign is being carried out with the full cooperation of the Pakistani Army. Therefore, this institution is as much responsible as the Americans for the killing of innocent people in the tribal areas”, Ustad Farooq added.