Top al-Qaida militant killed in raid: Pakistan

Adnan Shukrijumah, involved in a plot to bomb New York’s subway system, was killed along with two other suspected militants

Islamabad: Pakistani soldiers killed a top al-Qaida operative who was indicted in the US for his alleged involvement in a plot to bomb New York’s subway system on Saturday, the military said in a statement.

Adnan Shukrijumah. FILE PHOTO

The death of Adnan Shukrijumah is the latest blow to the terror organisation still reeling from the 2011 killing of leader Osama bin Laden and now largely eclipsed by the militant Islamic State group. It also marks a major achievement for the Pakistani military, which mounted a widespread military operation in the northwest this summer.

The military announced Shukrijumah’s death in a statement, saying that he was killed, along with two other suspected militants, in Pakistan’s South Waziristan tribal area early on Saturday. South Waziristan is part of the mountainous territory bordering Afghanistan that is home to various militant groups fighting both in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“The al-Qaida leader, who was killed by the Pakistan army in a successful operation, is the same person who had been indicted in the United States,” said a senior Pakistani army officer on condition of anonymity.

As al-Qaida’s head of external operations, the 39-year-old Shukrijumah occupied a position once held by September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. The FBI lists Shukrijumah, a Saudi national, as a “most wanted” terrorist and the US State Department had offered up to a $5 million reward for his capture.

Federal prosecutors in the US allege Shukrijumah had recruited the three men in 2008 to receive training in the lawless tribal region of Pakistan for the subway attack. The three travelled to Pakistan to avenge the US invasion of Afghanistan but were persuaded by al-Qaida operatives to return to the United States for a suicide-bombing mission against a major target such as the New York Stock Exchange, Times Square or Grand Central Terminal.

Eventually, the men settled on a plot to blow themselves up at rush hour, according to testimony in federal court.

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