Top al-Qaeda leader killed in Pakistan

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Sunday, December 4, 2005

Pakistani security forces have reportedly killed Abu Hamza Rabia, one of top five leaders in international islamic fundamentalist campaign al-Qaeda. With the help of the United States, Pakistani forces tracked down Rabia and killed him in a rocket attack near the Pakistani-Afghan border.

Rabia was among five people who were killed in the blast on Thursday in North Waziristan. According to official reports corroborated by Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf, the blast was set off as the victims were making explosives inside a suspected al-Qaeda hideout. An anonymous senior intelligence officer said that a missile attack triggered a massive explosion in a stockpile of bomb-making materials, grenades and other munitions.

Hamza Rabia is a key associate of Ayman al-Zawahiri, a prominent figure in al-Qaeda. "After Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri, Rabia was the most senior al Qaeda official for international terrorism planning," a US counteterrorism official said. According to officials, Rabia ranks somewhere between third and fifth in the organization's hierarchy. He is believed to have become the network's operational commander after the capture of Abu Farraj al-Libbi in Pakistan in May.

Intelligence officials said that Rabia was the target of the attack due to his alleged involvement in terror attacks and killings of government officials. He was brought to Miran Shah, a strategic tribal region where remaining al-Qaeda members are believed to have been hiding, by al-Zawahri, who is believed to have been on the run along the border. Officials, however, say that they have no idea on the whereabouts of al-Zawahri or Osama bin Laden.

Bodies of Rabia and two other foreigners were retreived and buried by associates from outside Pakistan, according to Pakistan's English-language Dawn newspaper.