Al Qaeda bomb maker reportedly killed in U.S. airstrike in Pakistan

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

ABC News is reporting that a key Al Qaeda operative was killed in the U.S. airstrike in Pakistan which killed 18 people, including women and children, last week.

An Egyptian chemist, Midhat Mursi, 52, also known as Abu Khabab al-Masri, was identified by unnamed Pakistan officials to ABC news. The sources said he was among one of three known senior al Qaeda members present at the compound that was hit.

"He's the man who trained the shoe bomber, Richard Reid and Zacharias Mousssaoui, as well as hundreds of others," said former FBI agent Jack Cloonan.

Mursi has a $5 million dollar bounty on his head and is well-known for his chemical weapons expertise, strange alias, and red beard.

Two Pakistani officials also reported the son-in-law of Al Qaeda's No. 2 leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, was also among those killed in the U.S. airstrikes.

Abu Ubayda al-Misri, Abd al-Rahman al-Maghrebi who was Zawahiri's son-in-law, and Mustafa Osman another Egyptian who was an associate of Zawahiri, are thought to be among those terrists that were killed. U.S. officials also say that Khalid Habib, another senior Al Qaeda operative, may have been at the site of the attack.

Pakistani officials have been searching for the gravesights of the 4 or 5 terrorists killed in the attack where three houses were destroyed, but so far have been unsuccessful. Provincial authorities say that sympathizers probably took the bodies to be buried in the mountains to prevent their identification.

"We do not have any evidence to prove that they have been killed, but we have indications that they were there and were among those bodies that were taken away," an unnamed official was quoted by the Associated Press news agency.

Pakistani Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao had earlier stated that the Pakistani government had no knowledge of the identities of the foreigners who were believed killed in the missile attack.

U.S. counterterrorism officials had no immediate comment on the report. The White House, as of Tuesday, has not made mention of any U.S. connection with the attack, but called Pakistan a valuable ally in the war against terrorists.