Islamabad: A top al-Qaida leader was among five militants killed on Sunday in a US drone attack in Pakistan's troubled North Waziristan region, a day after the chief of the terror group's global operations was also killed in a Pakistani military operation.
Umer Farooq, 38, believed to be in charge of al-Qaida's operations in Pakistan and Afghanistan, was killed in the strike that took place in the Khar Tangi area of Datta Khel district in the region, where the Pakistani military has been battling Taliban and al-Qaida-linked militants since June. A security official said Farooq was among five people killed when two missiles fired from the drone hit a compound.
The compound was completely destroyed in the attack. Also known Umer Ustad and Ustad Farooq, he was also working as al-Qaida chief for Afghanistan and Pakistan.Umer was close to Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, the former and current heads of al-Qaida, and was a key figure in running the group's operations and finances in Pakistan and in Afghanistan, where he also helped direct attacks against Nato troops, the Taliban said. His killing came a day after Pakistani forces killed top al-Qaida operative Adnan Shukrijuma in raid at a house in South Waziristan. The chief of al-Qaida's global operations, Shukrijuma was wanted by the US over a 2009 plot to attack the New York subway system.
Shukrijuma was among the five men indicted in the US over the plot to bomb New York's subway system under orders from al-Qaida leaders in Pakistan. The New York indictment links him to the Manhattan plot and a similar never-executed scheme to attack British subways, according to media reports.
North Waziristan has long been used as shelter by the Taliban and al-Qaida-linked militants and has frequently been targeted by US drones. The Pakistani military launched a major offensive in North Waziristan in June and say they have killed more than 1,000 militants so far.
For almost a decade, American drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal belt have been deeply unpopular with the public. Pakistani officials have publicly condemned the drone strikes, saying they violate sovereignty. But many Pakistanis suspect that their government secretly colludes to help identify targets.