T Nation

Pakistan Al Queda Killed By Rocket



SLAMABAD, Pakistan - A man described as al-Qaida's operational commander has died in an explosion in Pakistan's lawless tribal areas, the president said Saturday, with intelligence officials claiming Hamza Rabia was hunted down with U.S. help, then killed in a rocket attack.

The remains of Rabia, who was ranked between third and fifth in the terror network's hierarchy and was a key associate of al-Qaida No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri, were identified with a DNA test, Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed.

In Washington, a senior U.S. defense official said he could not confirm that Rabia was dead. The official did say that Rabia is believed to be the successor to Abu Farraj al-Libbi as the chief of international operations.

Rabia had been linked to a number of terror attacks and murders of government officials in Pakistan's tribal areas bordering
Afghanistan. He had risen to al-Qaida operational commander following the May arrest of Abu Farraj al-Libbi in northwestern Pakistan, Ahmed said. Al-Libbi was later handed over to Washington's custody.

"He was al-Qaida's No. 5 and this is what we know," Ahmed told The Associated Press.

However, other officials said Rabia ranked as high as third, just behind
Osama bin Laden and al-Zawahari.

The circumstances surrounding Rabia's death Thursday were unclear as Pakistan ? a key U.S. ally in the war on terrorism that walks a fine line while trying to avoid angering Islamic conservatives ? downplayed suggestions that it hunted him down.

When the story first broke, officials said six rockets had been fired on a village near Miran Shah, the main town in the North Waziristan tribal area, and that one had hit a house, killing five people.

The government later issued a revised report that the men, inside what was believed to be an al-Qaida safehouse, had blown themselves up while handling explosives.

Three intelligence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to media, said Saturday that the original story was correct, with one claiming that U.S. assistance had played a critical role in tracking down Rabia and "eliminating the threat" that he posed.

The Dawn newspaper reported that rockets were fired from unmanned aircraft, and one intelligence official said a missile strike triggered a huge explosion in a stockpile of bomb-making materials, grenades and other munitions.

Miran Shah is a strategic tribal region where remnants of al-Qaida are believed to have been hiding and where Pakistani forces have launched several operations against them.

Intelligence officials said Rabia ? who is Syrian ? had been brought to the area by al-Zawahri, who is believed to have been on the run along the Pakistan-Afghan border.

However, officials said they have no clue on the whereabouts of al-Zawahri or Osama bin Laden.

Another official, who also didn't want to be named due to the sensitive nature of his job, said Rabi became operational commander of the terror network after the arrests of al-Libbi, known to be al-Qaida's No. 3 leader. Al-Libbi ? who twice tried to assassinate Pakistan's President Gen. Pervez Musharraf for making the Islamic nation a key ally of the United States in its war on terror ? was later turned over to Washington for further investigation.

Associates from outside Pakistan retrieved the bodies of Rabia and two other foreigners and buried them in an unknown location, the Dawn newspaper report said.

Military officials have said hundreds of Arab, Afghan and Central Asian militants are in North and South Waziristan.

Pakistan ? a key ally of the United States in the war against terrorism ? has deployed thousands of troops in the area, fighting intense battles with militants and killing and capturing several of them.

What this means is that the Pakistani's may be letting the CIA and covert military operate in Pakistan. Bin Laden slips by on each side of the border between pakistan and afghanistan like he's a silly kid. Well sending a missle equipped UAV might do the job.


Covert action you say?

Seems a lot more effective than invading Pakistan doesn't it?


good point


Pakistan has been cooperating since the get go. When was there ever any talk about invasion?
The only impedance in the beginning was a nuclear standoff with India. Understandable distraction.


Sky, if it is effective in Pakistan... ?


Great news!!!

Don't you guys understand that if George W. Bush hadn't had a personal vendetta against saddam, we could have gotten this guy INSIDE PAKISTAN much earlier!!!

More troops would have made this happen earlier!!!

Oh wait, it was a drone and having 7,000,000,000,000 troops scouring Afghanistan still wouldn't have made a bit of difference for bad guys hiding in PAKISTAN.



This is an outrage, that man was just minding his business when he got his ass blasted to kibble by the imperialistic Allied forces. We need to posthumously re-classify the murderous thug as a harmless civilian and rack up another sensless kill for the "good guys".


Yes they have been cooperating , but only to a point. We haven't been able to put any visible troops in there yet.Bin laden has been playing keep-away with our forces by going in and out of the border from what thet news has said even though its been very quiet about ossama as of late..

We haven't been able to go just a few miles into the border to snatch bin laden off his camel and give him similar treatment in afghanistan as his iraqi counterpart Hussein. The reason why this is news is that tis is the first sign that there may be US forces inside pakistan making covert strikes.

But i don't know that and even if there was a missle equipped UAV, that did strike and end this guy that doesn't make it so. Israel has been doing this on their own for a while...


Jerffy, did you have something to say in that incoherent ramble?

I'm on record for supporting use of covert action against terrorism -- and this is a great example of what it is good for.

Cutting heads off of snakes. It's also relatively cheap and highly mobile.


This isn't first news, this is old news.
I'm not sure, but you seem to have an oversimplified concept of that regions terrain and politics.
Not to be a prick, but if you thing that this is first news, and capturing el-quaida leaders is as simple as snatching them off of a camel, I just can't continue in a conversation like this.
Just one tip- covert ops = (not) visible troops. Thats why they are covert.
Take care.


But pakistan hasn't been letting us do ANYTHING over their borders. Mabey they have been letting us do the covert troop thing which is great but we won't know about it if they are....The comment about ossama on the camel wasn't meant to be taken as fact haha


"Pakistan has been cooperating since the get go"

  • Pakistan has cooperated to an extent. The majority of their population are Pashtun Muslims, sympathetic to the Taliban and Bin Laden. Musharref (sp?) is already on rocky ground within his country, and he is careful to not overly incite his population. If anyone doubts this, check out the AQ Khan story.

He is the Pakistani nuclear scientist who sold nuclear secrets to the Iranians, such that they are able to start the program over which we may end up going to war. He is a genuine terrorist, illegally selling nuclear secrets, and yet he is not under arrest...well, he is under house arrest in Pakistan.

Remember Musharref's statement several years ago speculating that Bin Laden had died of liver failure? I think that he would like Bin Laden to disappear so that he does not have to be caught between US wishes and those of many Pakistanis. While I have no reason to think that Musharref knowingly harbors Bin Laden within Pakistan, I doubt that he wants to arrest him and turn him over to the US.


"He was al-Qaida's No. 5 and this is what we know

It is now being reported that he was the #3 guy in al-Queda. Is it me, or do we kill the #3 guy every couple of weeks?


Yes. Accoridng to the depth charts this was the third guy at that level killed.

Interesting article by Strategist Harold Hutchinson.

Al Qaeda Takes Another Hit in the Head

December 6, 2005:

It is believed that, on December 1st, a CIA Predator UAV fired two Hellfire missiles that killed Abu Hamza Rabia, one of the top half dozen (sometimes called the ?number 3 man?) al Qaeda leaders. Rabia was a key associate of al-Qaeda deputy Ayman al-Zarqawi, and had been responsible for two attempts on President Pervez Musharraf. This strike, which took place in Pakistan, means that bin Laden and Abu Musab Zarqawi will have to find their third person for that slot in a period of seven months (Rabia?s predecessor, Abu Faraj Farj al-Liby, was captured in May). This is not the first time that a CIA Predator has scored a kill ? in November, 2002, a CIA Predator killed Qaed Salim Sinan al-Harethi, the mastermind of the attack on the USS Cole as he and five other al Qaeda operatives were driving in their car.

This new vacancy in senior leadership positions reflects one of al Qaeda?s growing problems. As top-echelon elements of al Qaeda are killed, incapacitated, or captured, the talent pool dries up. Already, al Qaeda has been hobbled by attacks in Morocco, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Indonesia which have killed far more Moslem civilians than intended non-Moslem targets. As a result, al Qaeda has suffered a string of defeats as those who would have supported them instead drop a dime.

This has led to all but one of al Qaeda?s original Saudi leadership ending up either dead or in custody. The new al-Qaeda structure is composed of members that are primarily in their 20s. These twenty-something terrorists do not have the experience or training of their predecessors. In Jordan, only Lawrence Hamid Rashid Muhanna is still at large. Al Qaeda?s senior leadership has remained somewhat intact, but many of their on-scene operators are being captured or killed. Al Qaeda?s murder-suicide bombings kill off the operatives who manage to pull them off, another way the talent pool is depleted.

The other concern for al Qaeda is that eventually, taking out (killing or preferably capturing) people like Rabia and al Liby means that eventually the really big fish (Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri) will have to start talking one way or another. Talking means that there is a better chance for the American intelligence community to provide actionable intelligence. The depletion of al Qaeda?s talent pool also means that ineffective leaders like Abu Musab al Zarqawi, who tenure as head of al-Qaeda in Iraq has led to the alienation of Iraqi Sunnis and Jordanians due to attacks that have primarily killed Moslems, cannot be replaced.

What is happening to al Qaeda is similar to how the United States has pursued the drug cartels (most notably, the Medellin drug cartel) and the Mafia families (like John Gotti?s Gambino family). This sort of operation takes time (for instance, it took six years to convict Gotti after he ascended to the head of the Gambino family in 1985, and four years of concerted effort to kill Pablo Escobar after he ordered an airline bombing in 1989). As the talented leaders go (either by being killed or captured and kept on ice in places like Guantanamo Bay), al Qaeda will similarly be reduced to impotence. ? Harold C. Hutchison (hchutch@ix.netcom.com)



That article provides more evidence as to why the war in Iraq may be doing little to directly combat terrorism... such that covert ops might be more effective through the process of chopping the heads off of snakes.


Are you advocating covert ops instead of a large military force or in addition to them?

My personal opinion on this particular strike is that it was a high value target and was announced. I think many of the lower ranked targets don't generate as much publicity or are snatched up for intelligence.


I was just about to say that.


To me, it depends on the situation.

Afghanistan... green light for war.

Iraq... red light for war.

Other things could have been done to convert Iraq to a green light, but I think the administration wanted very much to get to war.

Obviously, that is an ongoing point of disagreement!




I guess America is the bad guy? If the country was full of people like you we would be all speaking Arabic or Deutch. I'm sick of all the candy-ass liberal people in this country. You don't realize how good you have it to live in the USA. Show some respect and have some pride in your country or get the fuck out.