Articles by Amir Mir

Five American Jihadis droned in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: (The News) Of the dozens of American nationals who had joined the jehadi front in Pakistan, five have so far been perished by the CIA-run US drones in the tribal areas of Pakistan, including al-Qaeda leaders, Adam Gadhn and Ahmed Farooq, who were droned in the January 15, 2015 attack in Shawal area of North Waziristan along with the now-slain American hostage, Dr Warren Weinstein.

According to information revealed by some well-placed diplomatic circles in Islamabad, at least 125 Americans have gone or have attempted to go abroad to join jehadi fronts in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen and Syria. Forty of these would-be jehadis were arrested before they left the US and 25 were killed while “waging jehad” abroad.

Six of them exploded themselves as suicide bombers while five of them were perished in the CIA-run drone campaign. Thirteen more Americans were arrested while abroad, three of whom were extradited and prosecuted in the US. Fifteen wanted American jehadis are still at large. Of those known to have returned to the United States, 32 were arrested and one was killed. Thirty-seven went or tried to go to Pakistan; 34 went or tried to go to Somalia; 20 to Syria; 18 to Afghanistan; and 11 to Yemen. The remaining Americans went to other countries.

Before the January 2015 killings of Adam Gadhn and Ahmed Farooq in drone attacks, Jude Kenan Mohammad was the only American militant known to have been killed in a drone hit in South Waziristan [on November 16, 2011]. Two other American jehadis droned on November 7, 2008 in North Waziristan still remain nameless. The death of Jude was confirmed two year after his killing by the US Attorney General Eric Holder in [May 2013]. Jude Kenan was arrested by Pakistani authorities on October 15, 2008 from the Mohmand Agency, before he escaped to the tribal areas after being released on bail. Jude was part of an eight-member group based in North Carolina accused of planning terrorist attacks in the US. He was indicted by federal authorities in 2009 as part of an alleged plot to attack the US Marine Corps base in Virginia. The other seven members were arrested, but Jude Kenan successfully fled the US to join al-Qaeda linked militants in Pakistan’s tribal region.

At the time of his arrest, the 20-year old Jude was carrying a laptop, a dagger, some Islamic books and DVDs, a map of Pakistan and an American passport. He had in fact traveled to Pakistan to visit his Pakistani father, Taj Mohammad who used to run a gas station in Peshawar. US consular officials in Pakistan subsequently visited Jude in jail and provided him with consular assistance. He was produced before a local court in the Shabqadar area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on October 17, 2008, where the police informed the judge that they were interrogating the American to determine why he had come to the area. Jude was finally released on bail, although he was booked on charges of possessing illegal weapon and traveling without proper documents. But Jude failed to show up for a court hearing on September 5, 2009, bolstering suspicions that he has fled. These fears were confirmed when Jude was killed in a US drone attack in South Waziristan three years later in November 2011.

While the standing of the two American jehadis killed in the November 7, 2008 drone attack in South Waziristan is not known, the elimination of the two Americans – Adam Gadhn and Ahmed Farooq – in the January 15, 2015 drone attack in North Waziristan – has come as a major blow to al-Qaeda. Adam Gadahn, who faced treason charges in the United States, was the man running the propaganda wing of al-Qaeda from his North Waziristan hideout despite the fact that the Pakistan Army is carrying out a military operation there since June 2014. Gadahn, for whom the United States had offered a reward of $1 million, was believed to be in his late 30s. Born in Oregon, he grew up in California, converted to Islam at the age of 17 and became a spokesman and translator for al-Qaeda.

Gadahn has been involved with al-Qaeda’s Al Sahab media wing and had appeared in several videos wearing robes and a turban and warning the United States it would face attacks if it did not heed al-Qaeda demands. He was the key person in charge of the al-Qaeda narrative and his death would have an impact on the terror group’s propaganda machine. Gadahn was one of the most prominent examples of a homegrown American jehadi to have joined overseas a terrorist group as prominent as al-Qaeda. Gadahn’s first trip to Pakistan was in 1997 where he fell in with some unsavoury characters from a local mosque who had established connections to international jehad. Even though he returned to the United States for a few months, he moved to Pakistan permanently in 1998, eventually joining hands with al-Qaeda. Gadahn initially told his family that he was working as a journalist.

Another key American jehadi killed in the January 15, 2015 drone strike in the Shawal area of North Waziristan along with the poor American hostage Warren Weinstein was Ustad Ahmed Farooq, an American Pakistani and the deputy ameer of the Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), who was seen as a “rising star” in terrorist circles. The AQIS was launched in September 2014 by al-Qaeda chief Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri, ostensibly to counter Islamic State recruitment efforts. CNN has reported that Ahmed Farooq “was a big deal” and had a special role in the international terrorist group. The al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent made its presence known in September 2014, when its fidayeen attackers infiltrated the Pakistan Naval Dockyard in Karachi and tried to hijack one of its ships.

According to a White House statement of April 22, 2015, al-Qaeda leader Ustad Ahmed Farooq, who was killed in a US drone hit on January 15, 2015 in the Shawal area of North Waziristan, was an American Pakistani. “Two al-Qaeda hostages, Warren Weinstein of the United States and Giovanni Lo Porto from Italy, were also killed in the same strike”. In fact, Ahmed Farooq had not been previously identified as an American, as the White House declared on April 22. Al-Qaeda used to identify him as a Pakistani, both publicly and in internal correspondence. Correspondence recovered in bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, and released in a Brooklyn terror trial earlier this year, revealed that Farooq was considered an up and coming leader within the organisation. In a letter written [on November 23, 2010], a former key al-Qaeda leader Atiyah Abdul Rahman had listed a number of “brothers who are prepared for responsibilities in the future.” One of them was a “Pakistani brother named Ahmad Farooq,” who was “in charge of Al Sahab in Urdu.” Al Sahab is al Qaeda’s Urdu propaganda arm. Rahman had described Ahmed Farooq as “a good man,” who “knows Arabic well,” and “has good management skills” as well as a “sound mind.”


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