Two top Kenyan al-Qaeda operatives, including the terror network's chief of operations in Pakistan who masterminded the devastating Marriott hotel bombing in Islamabad last year, were killed in a US missile strike in South Waziristan this month.
Identified as Usama al-Kini, al-Qaeda's chief of operations in Pakistan, and his lieutenant, Sheik Ahmed Salim Swedan, the two were killed in the missile strike conducted on January one, said The Washington Post, which first reported the incident quoting an unnamed US counter-terrorism official. Both men were involved in a string of suicide attacks in Pakistan in recent months and were also on the FBI's most-wanted list for their links to the 1998 bombings of US embassies in East Africa, it said.
Al-Kini is believed by US intelligence agencies to be behind the September 2008 Mariott hotel bombing and also the attack on a convoy carrying former Pakistani Premier Benazir Bhutto in 2007, who was later killed in another attack. "These are two of the most dangerous operational figures in today's al-Qaeda," a US official was quoted as saying by the CNN.
There was no immediate confirmation or denial by CIA. The two al-Qaeda leaders were killed by hellfire missiles fired by a pilotless drone aircraft operated by CIA, the paper said. "They died preparing new acts of terror," a counter-terrorism expert was quoted as saying by Fox News. The two were also believed to be involved in the 1998 attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, with Kini serving as a central planner.