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December 7, 2014

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Al-Qaeda leader wanted in US killed in SWA

PESHAWAR: The security forces killed a top al-Qaeda commander indicted in the United States over a foiled plot to bomb the New York City subway during an offensive in South Waziristan Agency early on Saturday, military authorities said.
He was identified as Adnan el Shukrijumah and was indicted in July 2010 for his alleged role in planned terror attacks in the US and Britain.
Military officials said the al-Qaeda commander was killed during the offensive that took place in Shaheen Warsak, commonly known as Shin Warsak, located a few kilometres west of Wana, the headquarters of South Waziristan.
The Saudi-born Shukrijumah, 39, was in charge of al-Qaeda’s global operations, a position once held by the September 11 attacks mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammad. He was also on the FBI’s “most wanted” list with a $5 million reward for his capture.
So far, he is said to be the top al-Qaeda operative killed by Pakistani security forces on their soil.
He studied at a community college in Florida but when the FBI showed up to arrest him as a material witness to a terrorism case in 2003, he had already had left the country.
In 2004, the then US Attorney General John Ashcroft called Shukrijumah a “clear and present danger” to the United States.
Prosecutors in the US had stated that Shukrijumah had recruited three men in 2008 to receive training in Pakistan for the subway attack.
The three travelled to Pakistan to avenge the US invasion of Afghanistan but were persuaded by al-Qaeda operatives to return to the United States for a suicide-bombing mission against a major target such as the New York Stock Exchange, Times Square or Grand Central Terminal.
Eventually, the men settled on a plot to blow themselves up during the rush hour, according to testimony in the federal court.
A senior Pakistan military official, who asked not to be identified, said Shukrijumah’s killing was a “huge loss” to the terror network in the

region.
Military authorities said they had confirmed intelligence reports about the presence of the al-Qaeda commander in a compound in Shin Warsak village before undertaking the mission. They added that a large number of troops were deployed around the compound and the village.
“The militants offered tough resistance when the troops entered the village to capture the al-Qaeda commander alive,” a senior military official said.
According to official sources, the al-Qaeda commander first hurled a hand grenade and then started firing from his compound.
One of the soldiers reportedly caught him with the grenade that exploded in his hands killing both — the al-Qaeda commander and the soldier — on the spot.
“He and his men had moved from North Waziristan and settled in Shin Warsak village and its adjoining areas of South Waziristan after the army launched a major offensive in North Waziristan in June against the local and foreign militants. We chased Shukrijumah from his hideouts in North Waziristan to South Waziristan,” the security official said.
According to officials, before using force they held numerous meetings with tribal elders of the Ahmadzai Wazir tribe in Wana to peacefully expel foreign and local militants who had arrived from the neighbouring North Waziristan and settled there.
“However, the local elders expressed their inability to expel the foreign and local militants from the area. This prompted the military to take them on,” a security official added.
According to military authorities, the body of Shukrijumah had been retrieved and shifted out of the tribal region.
The security forces are also said to have taken five other militants affiliated with al-Qaeda into custody during the offensive and shifted them to an undisclosed location for interrogation.
“We don’t want to disclose the identity of the five men at this stage,” a security official said.
The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) released the name of Adnan el-Shukrijumah to the media after the incident and said he was killed along with one of his men.
The ISPR also said that a soldier of the Pakistan Army was killed and seven others suffered injuries in the clash. The slain soldier was identified as Havaldar Masood Shah.
The locals in Shin Warsak and its adjoining villages said that a large number of Pakistani troops had encircled the area early on Saturday morning and made announcements asking the villagers to stay home till further orders.
“The entire area was placed under curfew and all schools remained closed today. Besides the ground forces, two gunship helicopters took part in the offensive and pounded suspected hideouts of the militants,” a local tribesman, Dildar Wazir, told The News on phone. He said communication in the area was suspended.
Also, the villagers said they saw military ambulances taking the injured soldiers from the spot to the nearby Pakistan Army camp.
Meanwhile, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Raheel Sharif appreciated the troops for killing the senior al-Qaeda commander without suffering any major loss. He said no terrorist will be spared.
Military officials said it was a coincidence that the Pakistan Army chief was in Peshawar and was informed about the major development when the security forces accomplished the task in South Waziristan.
General Raheel Sharif was briefed about the Zarb-e-Azb operation in North Waziristan, the ongoing action in Khyber Agency and the security situation elsewhere in Fata and Malakand Division during this visit to the Corps Headquarters, Peshawar.
Peshawar bureau adds: General Raheel Sharif directed the authorities concerned to start preparation for the return of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) from North Waziristan to their homes and villages.
The army chief expressed complete satisfaction over the progress of military operations and achievements made so far.
General Raheel appreciated the spirit and commitment of troops in sustaining the operations. He lauded the sacrifices rendered by the officers and jawans in operations who have written new chapters of valour and commitment.
General Raheel was also briefed on the return strategy for the IDPs of North Waziristan including the rehabilitation of the affected areas.
Appreciating the planning process, the army chief said the early return of the IDPs is their top priority and directed all the concerned to start preparation for the return phase.
Earlier, on arrival at the Corps Headquarters, Lieutenant General Hidayatur Rahman, Commander 11 Corps Peshawar, received the army chief.

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