Head of al Qaeda European network killed in recent attack

Observer/Guardian:

An al-Qaeda trainer and explosives specialist involved in a range of European terrorist networks has been killed in Pakistan, the latest senior militant to die in a spate of controversial American missile strikes.

The death two weeks ago of Abu Suleiman al-Jazairi, a highly experienced Algerian militant, has been confirmed only in the last few days, intelligence sources in Pakistan and Western Europe told The Observer. Al-Jazairi, thought to have been 45, died along with at least 15 others when the house in which he was staying in Pakistan's Bajaur tribal district was hit by a missile fired from a Predator, an American pilotless drone.

Details are only now emerging about the strike on Damadola, a village near the Afghan-Pakistan border hit twice in the past. The house targeted and destroyed by the drone is believed to belong to a former Afghan Taliban defence minister, Maulvi Obaidullah, members of whose family, including women and children, are thought to have died. The surrounding area is in the hands of militants linked to the Pakistan Taliban militant group who have been blamed for the killing of Benazir Bhutto last year.

The death of al-Jazairi, thought to have been director of external operations for al-Qaeda and thus responsible for running the terrorist group's European and British networks, was cited by CIA chief Michael Hayden last week as one of the reasons for the 'strategic defeat' of al-Qaeda. Another top militant, Abu Laith al-Libi, was killed in February.

'The ability to kill and capture key members of al-Qaeda continues, and keeps them off balance - even in their best safe haven along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border,' Hayden said. Hayden added that al-Qaeda had been defeated in Saudi Arabia, was losing the battle for hearts and minds in the Islamic world and was now unable to exploit the Iraq war to draw in new recruits.

...

The story goes on to give the opinions of some who think al Qaeda is still a significant threat.

While I posted on the Predator Hellfire attacks when they happened, this is the most detail I have seen on the main target of that attack. This guy was likely in charge of most of al Qaeda's recent attacks outside of Iraq and Afghanistan. All the British attacks, for example, had a common thread of training in Pakistan before they launched their bombings. I would say as a trainer, he was not that great.

The back pack bombers of the 7-7 attacks did engage in mass murder for Allah, but most of the other attacks have been thwarted or were spectacular failures. Hopefully he will not be replaced with someone more competent.

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