PHILIPPINE TROOPS KILL ABU SAYYAF COMMANDER
Amilhamja Ajijul, an Abu Sayyaf commander who headed the organization’s urban terrorism unit, was killed by Philippine security forces on April 11 (Malaysia Star, April 11). Ajijul was accused of organizing bombings in Zamboanga City, a town 530 miles south of Manila, including one that killed an American soldier at a café in Malagutay village in 2002 (Malaysia Star, April 11). He was wanted for leading bombings at Zamboanga’s Shop-O-Rama and Shopper’s Central department store, attacks that killed at least six civilians (Sun.Star Zamboanga, April 14). According to authorities, Ajijul was also responsible for many kidnappings. He was killed after soldiers, acting on a tip from a civilian informant, attacked his hideout in remote Curuan district, 30 miles northeast of Zamboanga City (Sun.Star Zamboanga, April 14). Abu Sayyaf, a U.S. listed terrorist organization, is led by Khadaffy Janjalani, who carries a $10 million bounty on his head. While the group at one point numbered in the thousands, authorities allege that its membership has fallen to around 300 due to an effective U.S.-backed military campaign.
TOP AL-QAEDA OPERATIVE KILLED IN PAKISTAN
Muhsin Musa Matwalli Atwah, otherwise known as Abdur Rehman and Abu Muhajir, was killed by Pakistani security forces on April 12 just south of the North Waziristan town of Miran Shah (Dawn, April 14). The Egyptian militant, an explosives expert, was wanted by U.S. authorities for his role in the 1998 al-Qaeda bombings on the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam; he also reportedly trained al-Qaeda fighters in Sudan, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The U.S. government offered a $5 million reward for information leading to his arrest. According to Pakistani authorities, from 11:00 PM until 11:30 PM on April 12, helicopter gunships attacked and destroyed a compound in Anghar Killay, a remote village near Afghanistan, leaving Atwah and around nine other militants and tribesmen dead (Dawn, April 14). The intelligence leading to the attack was acquired from interrogating 19 militants captured in the Shawal region of North Waziristan on April 5 (Dawn, April 14). Authorities allege that Atwah was providing weapons to the ongoing insurgency in Afghanistan.
PRO-TALIBAN MILITANTS CONTINUE FEAR TACTICS IN PAKISTAN
According to Pakistani authorities, on April 16 pro-Taliban militants in North Waziristan beheaded two tribesmen in response to their cooperation with U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Security officials, speaking to AFP, said that the militants beheaded a well-known tribesman in the town of Khar Qamar in North Waziristan who had been providing food to U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan (AFP, April 17). The other beheaded tribesman was killed in Madhakhel, also in North Waziristan, and a note was placed by his body that accused him of being a spy for the U.S. According to officials, the note also stated that “all those working as U.S. spies will face the same fate” (AFP, April 17). These latest deaths come after the killing on April 2 of Maulvi Zahir Shah, a prominent cleric who was found dead in South Waziristan; his body also had a note attached, saying that he had been murdered due to his links with Americans (Terrorism Focus, April 11). Taliban militants have been pursuing fear tactics in Pakistan, killing clerics and other prominent figures who participate with Islamabad or with the U.S.
U.S. FORCES IN IRAQ KILL AL-QAEDA’s “AMBASSADOR”
Al-Qaeda operative Rafid Ibrahim Fattah, also known as Abu Umar al-Kurdi, was killed by U.S. forces near Baqouba on March 27 (Gulf Times, April 14). According to U.S. military spokesman Major General Rick Lynch, Abu Umar had ties to other militant groups such as the Taliban, Ansar al-Sunna and al-Jaish al-Islami (“Islamic Army of Iraq”). Lynch called him “a liaison between terrorist networks” and al-Qaeda’s “ambassador.” The U.S. military statement on the killing lists Abu Umar as a member of al-Qaeda who operated in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan and worked as a security chief at an al-Qaeda training compound in Afghanistan.