MSNBC reports The operational commander of al-Qaida and possibly the No. 3 official in the terrorist organization, Hamza Rabia, was killed early Thursday morning by a CIA missile attack on a safehouse in Pakistan, officials told NBC News.
This is good news. Earlier reports I saw indicated he had been blown up making a bomb, but as the photo indicates "Pakistani tribesmen are seen on Thursday displaying a piece of a U.S. made laser guided missile, found in the debris of a house which was destroyed after alleged American Predator aircraft, which flew from bordering Afghanistan, fired on the house, killing five people including a senior al-Qaida commander identified as Abu Hamza Rabia." I am happy that the CIA has good enough intelligence to know what house to target with an unmanned Predator, and that they can use this technology so they don't have to endanger American agents.Pakistan's president later confirmed the militant leader's death. “Yes indeed, 200 percent. I think he was killed the day before yesterday if I’m not wrong,” President Pervez Musharraf told reporters as he arrived in Kuwait on an official visit on Saturday. While Pakistani officials publicly said Rabia died in a blast caused by explosives stored in a house for bomb-making, officials speaking on condition of anonymity told NBC News he was killed by a CIA missile strike carried out by an unmanned Predator airplane. Pakistan's government has always been reticent to admit that Predators are used in Pakistani airspace to hunt down al-Qaida operatives. The sources told NBC News Rabia was one of five men killed at a safehouse located in the village of Asorai, in western Pakistan, near the town of Mirali.
CAYankee blogged At Winds of Change, Dan Darling offers more about the significance of getting Rabia, as well as the capture of capture of Mustafa Setmariam Nasar and the suicide of Abu Omar al-Saif in Dagestan. This is another significant victory in the War On Terror.
Dan Darling blogged One thing that'll be interesting to learn is whether or not the US had anything to do with assisting the Russians in locating al-Saif, given both the precedent of our helping them to hunt down Ruslan Gelayev and al-Saif's status in al-Qaeda. Either way, the capture of Nasar and the deaths of Rabia and al-Saif represent both a potent blow to the enemy and an impressive counter-terrorist victory for the US and its allies.