A US drone strike has killed a senior al-Qaida leader in Pakistan, officials reports. The leader was killed near the Afghan border, and his death his the latest blow to the Islamic militant network.
An al-Qaida web forum announced the death early Friday: “We celebrate to you the news of the martyrdom of the working scholar Shaykh Khalid al-Hussainan (Abu Zaid al-Kuwaiti) while eating his Suhoor (dawn time) meal, and we ask Allah to accept him in paradise.”
Sheik Khalid bin Abdel Rehman al-Hussainan, also known as Abu Zaid al-Kuwaiti, was killed when missiles hit a house Thursday near Mir Ali, one of the main towns in the North Waziristan tribal area, the Pakistani officials said.
Earlier this year, Abu Zaid al-Kuwaiti replaced Abu Yahya al-Libi, al-Qaida’s second in command. al-Libi was also killed in a US drone strike. Al-Libi was a key religious figure within al-Qaida and also a prominent militant commander.
Al-Kuwaiti, notes The Huffington Post appeared to be a less prominent figure. He was not part of the US State Department’s list of most wanted terrorist suspects as the former leader, al-Libi, had been.
Over the past few years, covert CIA drone strikes have killed multiple senior al-Qaida and Taliban leaders in Pakistan’s tribal region. Drone attacks remain controversial because the secret nature of the program makes it “difficult to determine how many civilians are being killed.”
On Sunday, dour drone-launched missiles blew apart another house near Miran Shah in North Waziristan, killing three suspected militants, officials say. North Waziristam, according to officials, has become the main hub for al-Qaida and Taliban militants in Pakistan.
Although Pakistani officials criticize drone strikes, saying they are a “violation of the country’s sovereignty,” some senior Pakistani officials are known to have cooperated with strikes in the past. Reportedly, many people believe they still do.
Al-Kuwaiti’s wife and daughter were wounded in Thursday’s drone attack, according to the intelligence officials. His wife died a day later at a hospital in Miran Shah.
Al-Kuwaiti was buried in Tappi village near Mir Ali on Friday.
With many of al-Qaida’s leaders being taken down in Pakistan, many analysts believe the biggest threat now comes from al-Qaida franchises in places like Yemen and Somalia.