Zawahiri Dead? Updated

2-28-08-missile-strike-waziristan.jpgYesterday evening I reported that we might have gotten Ayman Al Zawahiri in a morning missile strike in Pakistan due to a snippet of information from The Nation. The story named the house hit, the owner, and detailed that it had an adjacent mosque/madrassah. The Nation’s story also mentioned foreign fighters including “an egyptian fugitive.”

Besides the note in the Nation, I’ve not yet found secondary confirmation. B. Raman, a noted analyst of Terrorism in Pakistan notes this:

The strike of February 28 was apparently as precise as that of January 29, 2008, and would have been possible only with human intelligence (HUMINT) and not technical intelligence (TECHINT).A significant sequel to the January 29 strike was there were no major protest demonstrations against the US by the villagers in the targeted area. This was because the strike and the HUMINT on which it was based were so accurate that there were no collateral civilian casualties. The lack of major demonstrations showed that the villagers do not mind precisely targeted attacks on jihadi terrorists provided the attacks kill only known terrorists and not innocent civilians.

What makes this frustrating is that we might not know for weeks or months if it truly was Ayman Al Zawahiri. The bodies were undoubtably burnt and in fragments, and Taliban or Al Qaeda fighters immediately surrounded the location and buried the bodies in unknown location.

There are also serveral Egyptian Al Qaeda operating in Pakistan, not just Al Zawahiri. As one example, “Sheikh Essa,” one of the proponents of Takfirism in Pakistan, operates in North Waziristan. He has followers such as Saddiq Noor, who’s responsible for several bombings in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

I’ll be searching the rest of the day for secondary confirmation, as well as other news on Zawahiri, or whomever was hit in the strike. If you run across anything please stop by with a comment.

From The Long War Journal where Bill Roggio lists some of the notable Egyptian AQ operating in the area:

As identities of those killed in the latest strike in South Waziristan is still being sorted out, the nationality of some of those killed is known. Anywhere from eight to 13 al Qaeda and Taliban were reported killed in the strike. Dawn reported four Arabs, two Turkmen, and two Pakistanis from Punjab province were killed. Local Taliban cordoned the area and immediately buried the bodies, which were said to have been badly burned and mutilated.

The presence of Arab al Qaeda operatives in Azam Warzak has led to speculation that a senior al Qaeda figure may have been killed. “An al Qaeda fugitive from Egypt” was reported to have been among those killed, The Nation reported. This has raised the hopes that Ayman al Zawahiri, the Egyptian-borne second in command of al Qaeda was among present during the strike.

But several senior Egyptian members of al Qaeda are known to operate in Pakistan’s tribal areas. These include Abu Khabab al Masri, Abu Ubaidah al Masri, Abdul Rahman al Masri al Maghribi, and Sheikh Essa. Abu Khabab, Abu Ubaidah, and Maghribi were believed to have been killed in the January 2006 Damadola airstrike but the reports were false.

Adam Gadahn:
Also note that The Jawa Report has been speculating on information from sources that Adam Gadahn might have also been killed (per this link, potentially in the strike that got Al Libi.) See this note in B. Raman’s Opinion column which seems to corroborate the the speculation:

A missile suspected to have been fired by an unmanned US aircraft early on the morning of January 29, 2008, had destroyed a house, owned by Madad Khan, a local leader of the Taliban at a village called Khushali Torikhel, 12 kilometres south of Mir Ali town, in North Waziristan, where the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and the Islamic Jihad Group, another Uzbek jihadi organisation, are based. While Madad Khan reportedly survived the attack, his 10 guests–all believed to be Uzbeks and Arabs–were killed. Two wives of Madad Khan and three of their children were also killed.

While the Pakistani authorities did not confirm the identities of those killed, local tribals suspected that one of those killed must have been Abu Laith al-Libi, a Libyan national and an important Al Qaeda leader, whose martyrdom, meaning death while waging jihad, was announced by a web site ( associated with Al Qaeda, on January 31, 2008. His so-called martyrdom has since been confirmed by Ayman al-Zawahiri, the No.2 to bin Laden, in an audio message disseminated on February 27, 2008.

The nine-minute, 59-second message titled “An Elegy to the Martyred Commander Abu Laith al-Libi,” was issued by as-Sahab, the group’s PSYWAR branch. It described al-Libi as a “knight” of Al Qaeda’s holy war. He was “a mountain of Jihad and a lion.” It added: “You Americans and you the agents of the Americans: (al-Libi and others) are the pioneers of the march and the good omen of a new dawn. Every time a martyr falls, another martyr grabs the banner from him, and every time a chief goes down in blood, another chief completes the march after him.”

Immediately after the missile strike, there was speculation in the area targeted by the US that Adam Gadhan, the American convert to Islam, who headed As-Sahab, was also with Abu Laith at the time of the attack and was also killed, but this has not been confirmed so far.

Previous Story on Zawahiri
Here’s a link to various stories on the Zawahiri tape released recently.
Stories on the Waziristan Missile Strike

Graphic From The Daily Times, Pakistan

Update: Asia Times reports that the missile strike was performed by a drone that took off from a Peshawar airfield. This muddies whether or not it’s a US strike, as Pakistan military has reported several times that they have drone capability.

The madrassa hit on Thursday was, according to ATol contacts, used several weeks ago by Baitullah Mehsud – accused of masterminding the assassination of Benazir Bhutto last December – and Sirajuddin Haqqani, a senior Taliban commander. It is also said to have been used by Tahir Yuldashev, head of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and al-Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Such madrassas rarely feature on the radars of US intelligence as they are only used for short meetings, stays or transfers. They are never used for training purposes or for prolonged stays or as hideouts.
The Azam Warsak madrassa was also used for launching guerrilla operations in Paktika province across the border, hence it was stocked with missiles and rockets. It is believed that a fresh group of militants had gathered at the madrassa on Wednesday for such an attack.

Asia Times has contacts within Al Qaeda, and in the past has printed disclaimers and claims from them, so note this at the end of the article:

A top al-Qaeda member of Pakistani origin summed it up in commenting to ATol on condition of anonymity, “We were eyeing developments in Islamabad after the elections [last week] but it seems that nothing is going to change and our new strategy will surface like broad daylight in the coming few days.”

UPDATE II: Wapo story, note that a day and a half later that reports are now bringing up “civilian casualties”… zero were initially reported and there are typically demonstrations, shutterdowns, or riots after that occurs. None reported in the wake of this strike.

France 4 Reminds us that Zawahiri has missed a deadline for promised answers to Jihadi forum questions.

Local Tribal Leaders, including the owner of the house are demanding to know who carried out the raid. There are multiple accountings, including:
Predator Drone US
Predator Drone Pakistan (unsubstantiated reports of drone taking off from Peshawar)
Black Helicopter op (Everyone keeps forgetting this one, so I will throw it in for fun)
Explosives and Missiles stored in the house going off
Missile fired from Afghanistan (ISAF/US/NATO)
Missile fired from Afghanistan (Other Taliban or Al Qaeda forces, this would not be the first time that’s happened either.)
US Missile fired from Gulf

Any of the above are possible, but most likely is a predator drone coupled with Humint, leading to speculation that AQ’s heavily infiltrated. (There is that Fifty Million dollar reward out there going begging after all.)

Did We Get Zawahiri This Morning?

Exact identity and strength of the foreigners killed in the incident has not yet been determined, but the locals informed that they were either from Arab countries or Central Asia. An Al-Qaeda fugitive from Egypt is also reported to be among them.

Earlier there were several news stories regarding a missile strike in Pakistan, six miles north 10 KM West of Wana in the Kaloshah area of Azam Warshak, Shero Village.

Everyone is holding their breath wondering who we got, and Jawa report has speculation that Adam Gadahn is in multiple pieces.

I’m going to up the ante, by wondering if we didn’t get Ayman Al Zawahiri this morn; note this newstory from The Nation:

‘US missiles’ kill 13 in S Waziristan

Many foreigners among the dead: officials
PESHAWAR – At least 13 militants, including some foreigners, were killed and 11 others were critically injured as three missiles, allegedly fired by the US forces, hit a house in Kaloshah area of Wana District in South Waziristan Agency on Thursday, eyewitnesses said.
Immediately after the attack, the militants encircled the area and local people were barred from entering the site. 
However, the locals informed that three missiles fired from an unknown direction hit the house of Malik Khel Wazir at Shero Village, Kaloshah Azam Warsak area at midnight, killing at least 12 people, mostly foreigners, and injuring 11 others critically. 
Several rooms of the house were completely destroyed in the attacks. 
Exact identity and strength of the foreigners killed in the incident has not yet been determined, but the locals informed that they were either from Arab countries or Central Asia. An Al-Qaeda fugitive from Egypt is also reported to be among them. 
However, the officials claimed that there was a seminary near the house, which was used by the militants as a shelter. 
The killed persons were buried in the area, while the injured were admitted to local and Wana hospitals.
It is highly believed that the US forces, either from Afghanistan side or from Arabian Sea, fired the missiles. 
It merits mentioning that this is the second attack of its kind in a month. Earlier, a missile hit a hideout at Mir Ali town, killing 12

Much more on the Missile Strike at The Long War Journal

William F. Buckley RIP; William F. Buckley Lives in Us


Forgive me if you will for the title paraphrase of “The King is Dead; Long Live the King”, but it is truly fitting for the passing of the father and king of modern conservatism. William F. Buckley passed from this mortal sphere at the age of 82 today, but his influence will last centuries to come.

There will never be another William F. Buckley, but centuries from now students will still be reading Willliam’s works.

William F. Buckley is tuly immortal, and not just in the Christian sense, but also in the secular sense. Mr. Buckley is not dead for he lives on in all of us. We are conservatives and we carry his thoughts, his bright spirit, and his lasting wisdom forever with us.

So don’t waste this day in selfish mourning — rather think on the spirit, the will, and the wisdom from William that you will carry forward.

More at Hot Air

More at Little Green Footballs

Update: Select Quotes from Wall Street Journal:

Despair is inappropriate for a culture as buoyant as our own.

— Address at the Yale Political Union, 2006

Deoband Fatwa Against Terrorism: Waffle-Ironed

My overall verdict on this? As Fatwas against Terrorism go this falls completely off the scale into the “not fit to wipe hog’s butts with” category.

I previously posted on a declaration from an all sect Islamic Scholar conference in India, and expressed some hope as well as some skepticism. It turns out that the skepticism was justified. Below is the full text of the Declaration, or Fatwa against Terrorism with my commentary in brackets.

Islam is the religion of mercy for all humanity. It is the fountainhead of eternal peace, tranquility, security. Islam has given so much importance to human beings that it regards the killing of a single person the of killing the entire humanity, without differentiation based on creed and caste. Its teaching of peace encompasses all humanity. Islam has taught its followers to treat all mankind with equality, mercy, tolerance, justice. Islam sternly condemns all kinds of oppression, violence and terrorism. It has regarded oppression, mischief, rioting and murdering among severest sins and crimes.

[So far sounds like all other previous Muslim declarations against Terrorism — take this with a grain of salt in light of history the past 20 years.]

This All India Anti-Terrorism Conference attended by the representatives of all Muslim schools of thought organised by Rabta Madaris Islamiah Arabia (Islamic Madrasas Association), Darul Uloom Deoband condemns all kinds of violence and terrorism in the strongest possible terms.

[Wow! Fantastic – way to go! … but why is this so long since a declaration to express condemnation of terrorism is relatively simple? ]

The Conference expresses its deep concern and agony on the present global and national alarming conditions in which most of the nations are adopting such an attitude against their citizens especially Muslims to appease the tyrant and colonial master of the West, which cannot be justified in any way.

[ here’s the “but” clause, or as one teacher put it the “however” clause — as everyone should know “however” is just a soft “but”…

This is where the universe is flipped to paranoid fantasy and non-muslims become the cause of all ill that assails the world, and Muslims become the perpetual victims…]

It is a matter of greater concern that the internal and external policies of our country are getting heavily influenced by these forces. Their aggression, barbarism and state-sponsored terrorism not only in Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan but also in Bosnia and various South American countries have surpassed all the records known to human history.

[Statistics do not lie, and statistics tell us that muslim terrorists have killed 10x the number of muslims that all western forces have. Indeed, the neo-takfirists of Deobandi / Wahabbist stripe will hunt other sects of Islam ahead of Westerners in most cases; it’s all about temporal dominance within Dar Al Islam with them.]

Contrary to it, our great nation has always been known for impartiality and its moral and spiritual values. Now the situation has worsened so far that every Indian Muslim especially those associated with madrasas, who are innocent with good record of characters, are always gripped by the fear that they might be trapped by the administrative machinery anytime. And, today countless number of innocent Muslims are spending their lives behind the bars and are forced to bear many intolerable tortures.

[Paraphrased: They are catching too many of us, and people are beginning to notice. It’s getting harder for us to gain children to brainwash to our ways. We are victims once again! We are the victims, it’s us I tell you! Note the “Trapped in the Machine” line, that’s a nice touch where they equate law and justice to a machine.]

And, those spreading terror, attacking police stations, killing the police in broad daylight and showing illegal arms are roaming about freely with no effective and preventive steps being taken by the government to check their acts of terrorism and violence.

[Notice how the responsibility is transferred from the actual evil-doers in this section to the government who isn’t stopping them, note that the Deobandis accept no responsibility themselves. Notice how they don’t condemn the terrorists, just the government.]

This partial attitude has put a big question mark on the secular character of the government posing great threats to the country. Therefore, this All India Anti-Terrorism Conference strongly condemns this attitude and expresses its deep concern on this partiality of government officials and declares its continuous joint struggles for domination of law, justice and secular system.

[Wait a minute, I thought this was supposed to be a Fatwa against Terrorism, not the Government of India?]

This conference strongly demands the Indian Government to curb those maligning the madrasas and Muslims. The administrative machinery should be demanded to conduct impartial investigations in activities disturbing public peace in the country and to punish only those found guilty. It also demands to free the accused if he is found innocent and punish severely those officials who accused him of crimes of terrorism. No person of any particular community should be suspected without solid reasons. In short, the government agencies must fulfill their duty justly without any prejudice and bias so that real peace and security may prevail in the country.

[ So we now have the real point, this is a Fatwa against the government to protect the Deobandi’s, and terrorists, and to paint themselves as victims]

This All India Anti-Terrorism Conference appeals to all intellectuals, writers and media persons to independently and honestly analyze the national and international affairs and avoid to biased and partial attitudes.

[did they just say “honestly”?]

Moreover, this All India anti-Terrorism Conference attended by the representatives of all schools of thought appeal to all Muslims to continue, as they always did in the past, their loyalty towards the dear motherland and love and respect towards humanity. It appeals to them to fully understand the present alarming situation, the gravity and intensity of the time, and feel the pulse of the present world so that they might not be employed as tools of evils by anti-Islamic or anti-national forces. It peals to them to live with dignity and pride being faithful to the country, to keep full trust on their leadership, render full support to Islamic madarsas which are valuable assets of the Muslim Ummah, spend their lives in the country following Islamic Shariah and teachings with full confidence. They should always remember that most important things are Islam and practicing it, and, hence, their prime focus should be on enriching their lives with good deeds and noble manners as, in fact, worldly situations deteriorate because of non-practice of Islamic teachings.

Need for holding state-wise conferences against terrorism.

This meeting of working committee of All India madarsas association feels necessary to hold state-wise conferences as it held this grand conference in view of the existing situations. The present situation of the country demands the joint and constant efforts being made to denounce terrorism, biased and discriminatory attitudes of the government against the Muslim community. It needs such conferences to be held in the major places of all the states. This meeting appeals to Darul Uloom Deoband to act as a leader in this direction.

[so they end up with the state is the terrorist, and we condemn it. They conclude that they are the victims.]

My overall verdict on this? As Fatwas against Terrorism go this falls completely off the scale into the “not fit to wipe hog’s butts with” category.

Update: BJP Wary of Deoband Fatwa Against Terror

British Hostage Video Airs on Al Arabiya

A new video of a British hostage aired on Al Arabiya today, from the Telegraph:

The bearded captive, who appears healthy, calls for the UK to free Iraqi prisoners in return for the men’s release, in the clip broadcast by the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya station
“I have been held here for nearly eight months,” he says, suggesting that the clip is already a month old.
Addressing Gordon Brown, the captive continues: “Release their people from prison so that we can go home. It is as simple as that.”
The video carries a message from the Islamic Shia Resistance in Iraq, a Shia faction believed to be connected to the Mahdi Army, the violent militia led by the radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.


With rebuilding efforts paramount to the future of Iraq, it’s very important to put an end to the hostage taking groups who will otherwise make recovery for the Shia areas of the country exceedingly difficult. NGO’s will not go where they are not safe.

Previous Hostage Posts

Crows Home to Roost V: Deoband Scholars Condemn Terror

At a summit of Islamic Scholars 20,000 strong in India even the Deoband scholars signed the declaration condemning terror.

There’s more to this than just a show, as terror now haunts the Islamic world. It is threatening their madrassa structure, and they are having harder times recruiting students due to the massive Muslim vs. Muslim terror violence we’ve seen the past two years.

The crows came home to roost, as demonstrated by Lal Masjid in Pakistan, the mosque bombings and shootings across the Islamic world, and the threats to stability and governance in many Islamic nations. It was bound to happen.

The question remains as to whether there will be after the fact winking and nudging to indicate that they only meant this for Islamic countries, or Dar al Islam.

From the Times Online:

Terrorism has been declared un-Islamic by scholars at a Wahabi madrassa, which some believe inspired the Taleban, according to a senior cleric.

In a declaration, as many as 20,000 leaders representing different sects of Islam also called on the Indian Government to ensure that Muslims were not harassed in the name of terrorism, Maulana Shaukat said. He was speaking from the 150-year-old Darul Uloom Deoband madrassa at Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh, northern India.

The declaration said: “Islam is a religion of mercy for all humanity. Islam sternly condemns all kinds of oppression, violence and terrorism.”

Adil Siddiqui, another Deobandi representative, noted that “whenever there is any incident of terrorism, every possible attempt is made to link it to Muslims, particularly who have studied in madrassas. This is totally wrong.”

Reading between the lines in several papers and Islamic forums there has been a sea change of sorts post-Bhutto assasination, it will be interesting to see how that develops.

Let the Strength of Peace Run Through This Land

I know I can never return
To the time of hope when I was born
Let the strength of peace run through my hand

When we walk away from the stone’s roar
Then I will be afraid no more
And now I’m sure of where I stand
Let the strength of peace run through this land

– The Storm, Big Country

Peace through strength is a maxim that is true, but which seems weak platitude since American forces seem so strong at this point. We just defeated two countries, and are well on our way towards defeating four separate armies of insurgency. We did that without interupting little league, football, or weekend shopping.

Our prowess in technology makes us second to none in our ability to deal swift, decisive and horrible damage to any opponent… however that window of superiority is closing.

With the upcoming elections it’s very important to choose the right candidate, not only at the national level, but also at the local. I give you the Berkeley City Council as one example of why defense is important even in local politics.

In the upcoming wind-down to the war there will be many calls once again to cut back on the military, but right now it’s in need of bolstering. American history is full of instances where we were ready to fight the past war, but not the one rearing in our face in the present.

Strength in defense comes from three very simple things –

  1. you have be be able to deflect any decisive blows,
  2. you must be able to hurt your opponent decisively and with ease,
  3. and you must be able to easily recover any damage dealt by attacks from opponents.

While simple on the surface, it takes a great deal to stay pre-eminent in defense. We must keep our technological lead, we must keep a strong economy, and we must keep a strong military.

This means electing people who are smart enough to do that, and who won’t opportunistically sell our children’s futures for “peace dividends”.

The Democrats are hell-bent on destroying our capability to defend our selves. They think the world will be a better place if we are not so strong.

They will do this by stopping the economy, particularly the energy sector, by cutting the military, and by cutting research on critical technologies like Missile Defense.

We can’t let them  do that, and that’s why no matter what stripe of conservative you are this is not the election stay home for. We can not let the Democrat majorities in Congress grow, and we can’t allow them to hold all three branches of government. If we do the entire world, not just us, will suffer.

More at The Washington Times:

While the nation should be proud of its military for its professionalism, dedication and sacrifice, we must fully understand that the threat to America remains strong and should refrain from repeating the mistakes of the 1990s when a substantial “peace dividend” was levied on the Department of Defense (DoD).

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, many experts expected a significant decrease in military deployments and armed conflicts. Few could imagine the number of contingency operations our forces would conduct during the next 10 years.

Despite this incredible demand, defense cuts were frequent and extreme. The Army was reduced from 18 divisions during Desert Storm to 10, the Air Force from 37 tactical air wings to 20, and the Navy from 568 ships in the late 1980s to a fleet of only 276 today.

In March 2003, the military was tasked to open a second front on the global war on terrorism. As progress in Iraq developed slower than planned, the DoD became strained. The reserve component was forced to transition from a strategic reserve to an operational force despite a long history of underfunding and lack of capital investment and modernization.


Over the next few months I will be running a series of articles on the challenges our Military must counter in this century. It’s much worse than what you might think.