Daily brief: U.S. kills al-Qaeda figure – Officials

Death from above A U.S. official said Thursday that a man known as Abu Hafs al-Shahri, identified as al-Qaeda’s chief of operations in Pakistan, had been killed earlier this week in Waziristan (NYT, Guardian, Tel, WSJ, AFP, CNN, Post, BBC, Reuters, ET, AP, CBS, ABC, DT). While officials have not confirmed the cause of death ...

Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Death from above

A U.S. official said Thursday that a man known as Abu Hafs al-Shahri, identified as al-Qaeda's chief of operations in Pakistan, had been killed earlier this week in Waziristan (NYT, Guardian, Tel, WSJ, AFP, CNN, Post, BBC, Reuters, ET, AP, CBS, ABC, DT). While officials have not confirmed the cause of death for al-Shahri, a former bodyguard for Osama bin Laden, it is believed that he was killed in a drone strike Sunday that targeted a vehicle and house in North Waziristan. Officials said that al-Shahri's death "removes a key threat in Pakistan," though Pakistani army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said that al-Shahri's death had not been confirmed (Post, Reuters).

In Karachi, police and paramilitary Rangers have detained at least 100 people believed to be involved with the current outbreak of violence in the city (ET, Dawn). On Thursday, police formally booked the head of the Sindhi nationalist party Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (JSQM), Bashir Qureshi, on charges of possessing illegal weapons (Dawn). Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Altaf Hussain called Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday to discuss the violence in Karachi and the flooding in Sindh (Dawn). The continued flooding has prompted prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani to cancel his planned trip to New York for the U.N. General Assembly meeting next week (Tel, Tel, AP, ET).

Death from above

A U.S. official said Thursday that a man known as Abu Hafs al-Shahri, identified as al-Qaeda’s chief of operations in Pakistan, had been killed earlier this week in Waziristan (NYT, Guardian, Tel, WSJ, AFP, CNN, Post, BBC, Reuters, ET, AP, CBS, ABC, DT). While officials have not confirmed the cause of death for al-Shahri, a former bodyguard for Osama bin Laden, it is believed that he was killed in a drone strike Sunday that targeted a vehicle and house in North Waziristan. Officials said that al-Shahri’s death "removes a key threat in Pakistan," though Pakistani army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said that al-Shahri’s death had not been confirmed (Post, Reuters).

In Karachi, police and paramilitary Rangers have detained at least 100 people believed to be involved with the current outbreak of violence in the city (ET, Dawn). On Thursday, police formally booked the head of the Sindhi nationalist party Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (JSQM), Bashir Qureshi, on charges of possessing illegal weapons (Dawn). Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Altaf Hussain called Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday to discuss the violence in Karachi and the flooding in Sindh (Dawn). The continued flooding has prompted prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani to cancel his planned trip to New York for the U.N. General Assembly meeting next week (Tel, Tel, AP, ET).

The death toll in the suicide bombing of a funeral in Dir Thursday rose to 40 overnight (Reuters, NYT, BBC, Dawn, DT).The United States Department of State on Thursday designated the Indian Mujahideen as a banned terrorist group, citing its role in several high-profile attacks in India as well as its links with Pakistan-based militant groups, including Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM), and Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami (HuJI) (CNN, WSJ, Reuters, AFP). And during meetings Thursday about Pakistan’s energy situation a U.S. delegation "expressed its serious reservations" about a planned energy pipeline from Iran to Pakistan (DT, Dawn). Bonus read: Michael Kugelman, "Tilting toward Tehran?" (FP).

Two stories round out the day: Pakistani and Afghan officials will meet for strategic talks today, and Pakistan will reportedly call on Kabul to better control militant groups engaging in cross-border attacks in Pakistan (ET). And the Pakistan Ordnance Factory booth at a major arms expo in London has been shut down after materials advertising cluster munitions, banned in the UK, were found at its stand (ET).

Phone a friend

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) announced Thursday that they had arrested two suspects in this week’s deadly attacks in Kabul, an alleged member of the Taliban and the other a member of the Haqqani Network, while Afghanistan’s interior minister said six of the attackers used cell phones to call numbers outside of Afghanistan during the assault (Tel, Reuters). ISAF commander Maj. Gen. Tim Evans said Thursday that international forces had disrupted several attacks planned to coincide with the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, as the Kabul attack continues to raise questions about the capabilities of Afghan security forces as foreign troops begin to transition away from maintaining security in the country (AFP, TIME).

Also today, Kevin Sieff has a must-read on the continued draw of militancy for Afghanistan’s youth, even for those who have spent time in government deradicalization programs (Post). Karen DeYoung reports on a Congressional hearing Thursday investigating waste and corruption in American trucking contracts in Afghanistan (Post). And Reuters explains how satellite technology is helping the military find Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in Afghanistan (Reuters).

A day at the zoo

Kabul’s mayor Muhammad Younus Nawandish announced Thursday that 80 percent of Kabul’s once-famous zoo had been rebuilt, after suffering extensive damage from 30 years of war and neglect (Pajhwok). The zoo draws up to 2,000 visitors a day, with that number rising to nearly 8,000 on Thursdays and Fridays.

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