CIA Kills Pakistan al Qaeda Commander Abu Hamza Rabia
Dan Spencer passes on word that yet another senior al Qaeda leader was killed overnight:
Egyptian-born Abu Hamza Rabia, al-Qaeda’s operational commander, was among five men killed in a raid in North Waziristan on Thursday. He is believed to have worked closely with Libyan Abu Faraj al-Libbi, the head of al-Qaeda’s international operations wing, until al-Libbi’s capture in May.
Apparently, the CIA did the killing.
Dan Darling adds the following:
In order to understand Rabia’s significance, some history of al-Qaeda in Pakistan is useful. After al-Qaeda’s operations were disrupted in Afghanistan, the group’s military committee appears to have splintered into two autonomous nodes, one based in eastern Iran and the other in northern Pakistan. Working independently but in coordination with one another, these two leadership groups appear to have since supervised the network’s regrouping and reorganization efforts, such as the most recent decision to appoint Khalid Habib and Abd Hadi al-Iraqi as the new leaders of the network in Afghanistan to augment their most active domestic allies Jalaluddin Haqqani and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, in some cases even using tactics modeled after those used by Zarqawi in Iraq.
With the help of Pakistan’s existing terrorist infrastructure, the Pakistani al-Qaeda leadership has tried, with varying degrees of success and failure, to reestablish the group’s terrorist training capacity by outsourcing its training programs to allied groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), maintain alliances with disaffected members of the Pakistani military and intelligence community, mount a domestic terrorist campaign against General Musharraf, and support the terrorist campaigns in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kashmir as well as other locations. Before his capture in March 2003, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was the undisputed head of the Pakistan leadership, but following his loss an ad-hoc council seems to have sprung up consisting of Abu Faraj al-Libbi, Hamza Rabia, Amjad Farooqi, Osama Nazir, Qari Saifullah Akhtar, and at least half a dozen other Pakistani and foreign al-Qaeda big-shots. As I noted here, it’s probably incorrect to describe Rabia as being the #3 leader in al-Qaeda, but he certainly was the head of al-Qaeda in Pakistan, which puts him in a rather unique position to do all of us here some major damage if one stops to appreciate what could happen should several high-ranking Pakistani officials be assassinated – and let me stress that Rabia and his co-conspirators have come damned close to killing General Musharraf on a number of occasions.
The same post features profiles of two other al Qaeda leaders killed over the last couple days.