Entries in al-Qaida (3)


Most Successful Drone Strike Ever: Were Three Al Qaeda Leaders Killed?

Stocktrek Images/Getty Images(SAN'A) -- The CIA drone strike that killed al-Qaida leader Anwar al-Awlaki and chief propagandist Samir Khan may also have taken out the terror organization's top bombmaker.

Reports say that Ibrahim al-Asiri, who they believe constructed both the "underwear" bomb used in the attempted bombing of Northwest Flight 253 and the devices in last year's parcel bomb plot, may have been with Awlaki and Khan when missiles from a U.S. drone struck their vehicle in Yemen Friday.

However, there has been no confirmation yet of al-Asiri's death from officials.

Asiri's fingerprint was found on the bomb allegedly packed into the underwear of Umar Abdulmutallab, accused of trying to blow up Northwest 253 on Christmas 2009 over Detroit.

The chief target, radical American-born cleric Awlaki, was a major al-Qaida figure who U.S. officials say inspired numerous terror plots against the U.S.

The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI issued a joint bulletin warning of the potential for retribution by jihadis.

"We assess US and Western-based sympathizers may attempt to exploit [Awlaki's] death due to his popularity as a violent extremist whose speeches and writings are widely available on the Internet. While there is currently no information suggesting retaliatory US-based activities in response to [Awlaki's] death, we are concerned about the possibility that autonomous extremists may react violently.

A senior U.S. official told ABC News the U.S. had been tracking the high-profile jihadist for some time and had just been waiting for the perfect moment to strike.

A Yemeni official said al-Awlaki was killed along with an unknown number of al-Qaida confederates.

"They were waiting for the right opportunity to get him away from any civilians," a senior administration official told ABC News.

President Obama said in an announcement Friday that al-Awlaki's death was a "major blow" to al Qaeda's most operational affiliate, the Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and that the successful operation against him was a tribute to the intelligence community and to Yemen.

Born in New Mexico and educated in Colorado, al-Awlaki rose to prominence among extremists as a member AQAP and was a vocal preacher of jihad. His online teachings have been cited as part of the motivation behind several attacks on the U.S. homeland -- from the Fort Hood Massacre to the attempted Christmas Day bombing and the Times Square bomb plot.

In 2010, al-Awlaki was declared a "specially designated global terrorist" and became the first U.S. citizen ever to be placed on a White House-approved list for targeted killing.

Earlier this year, America's chief counter-terrorism official Michael Leiter called him and AQAP "probably the most significant risk to the U.S. homeland."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


The Killing of Al-Awlaki: Will There Be Revenge Attacks?

ABC News(SAN'A) -- Following the killing of cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and other top al-Qaida operatives, many are asking whether there will be revenge attacks.

Al-Awlaki and his top media expert were both killed in drone attacks this past week. The terror group's top bomb-maker is also believed to have died.

Al-Qaida is believed to be on the run. The top man in Pakistan and Afghanistan, Zawahiri, is thought to be hiding in a cave.

NATO meanwhile announced that it has captured a senior leader of the Haqqani terror network in Afghanistan. Haqqani is believed to be responsible for attacking the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Gates Confirms U.S. Facilitated Talks in Effort to End to 9-Year War

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. forces in Afghanistan have allowed a Taliban member to travel to Kabul from Pakistan to attend peace talks with the Afghan government within the past two weeks, a senior U.S. official told ABC News.

The Taliban representative is believed to have driven into Afghanistan from the Pakistani city of Quetta, where the Taliban and its leader, Mullah Omar, have been based since their ouster by U.S. forces in 2001, the official said.

The official spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to provide greater detail about the U.S.-facilitated talks than had previously been disclosed.

"We are dealing with one main person," the official said.

The official declined to reveal the Taliban representative's identity, but said he "speaks for people in a big Taliban network."

On Thursday, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates confirmed for the first time that the United States had facilitated peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in an effort to bring an end to the nine-year war in Afghanistan.  He added, however, that the U.S. was not yet prepared to take part in the talks itself.

"Whenever opportunities arise that are worth exploring, we ought to take advantage of that," Gates said.

Friday, the official said the U.S. military does not provide transportation, but rather guarantees the Taliban representative will not be targeted on his way into Kabul.

The official said this particular Taliban representative has not been in meetings in Kabul before, but there have been meetings in the past that "broke down over stupid stuff."

The official seemed slightly more optimistic about the new meeting but "suspects they will squabble over all kinds of things" before the parties even really talk.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has sought for months to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table.

The United States has insisted this is an Afghan-led reconciliation process, though it has set some standards for what Taliban members must do in order to be accepted back, including renouncing ties to al-Qaida.

The State Department said Friday that some of the Taliban's top leadership may not qualify.

"There are particular red lines, if you want to call it that, that we have agreed with the international community and Afghanistan.  There is no indication that we have that Mullah Omar has any intention of meeting the standards that we've laid out," spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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