PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN — A Pakistani security official said an apparent U.S. missile strike early Monday may have killed a senior Al Qaeda trainer believed to be a chemical weapons expert.
Local officials in the tribal region of South Waziristan said that at least 12 people died in the attack, believed to have been carried out by an unmanned aerial drone. Foreign militants were among the dead, and one of them was thought to be Abu Khabab Masri, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The Pakistani military, as is its custom, denied knowledge of the missile strike and whether it had been carried out by the United States. American attacks inside Pakistan are highly sensitive politically.
One U.S. official familiar with the incident said the Pentagon was not involved and that “it was an agency-run op all the way,” a reference to the CIA. The agency had no comment.
A U.S. counter-terrorism official in Washington said that Masri, whose given name is Midhat Mursi al-Sayid Umar, was believed dead. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity.
Some might recall a Washington Times exclusive from earlier this month, reporting that the US had brokered a deal with Pervez Musharraf early in the Iraq war that allowed American Predator Drones to launch missile strikes at Osama Bin Laden, should he be located by American intelligence.
The State Department’s “Rewards for Justice” program offers a $5 million reward. Here’s the photo included on Masri’s page at the Reward for Justice site:
Information at Masri’s Wikipedia Page states that he was an “alleged top bomb maker for al-Qaeda and part of Osama bin-Laden’s inner circle.”