The Envoy
  • (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)A senior al Qaeda operative, Abu Hafs al-Shahri, was killed in northwest Pakistan earlier this week, U.S. officials said Thursday.

    "It has been confirmed that al Qaeda's chief of Pakistan operations, Abu Hafs al-Shahri, was killed earlier this week in Waziristan, Pakistan," a senior U.S. official told the Envoy on condition of anonymity Thursday.

    Abu Hafs' "death will further degrade al Qaeda's ability to recover from the death last month of AQ's number two, Atiyah [Abd al-Rahman], because of his operations experience and connections within the group," the official also said.

    American officials described Abu Hafs as an al Qaeda operative who collaborated closely with the Pakistani Taliban, known as Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan, to conduct coordinated attacks.

    The Associated Press reported that Abu Haf is the al Qaeda alias for a Saudi national whose real name is Osama Hamoud Gharman Al-Shihri, who was described as No. 11 on Saudi Arabia's list of its 85 most wanted terror suspects.

    "Osama Hamoud Gharman al-Shihri is No. 11 on the  January '09 Saudi list of most wanted, and he went by Abu Hafs or Abu Hafs al Shihri," the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's Christopher Boucek, an expert on Saudi Arabia, told the Envoy by email Thursday. The Saudi list "is only persons outside Saudi Arabia. The order of the list is not an importance ranking, it is alphabetical in Arabic, then transliterated into English."

    Al-Shihri "was born in 1981 and reportedly left Saudi Arabia for Syria in 2000," Boucek added. "Saudi authorities had assessed he was in South Asia (Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan) at the time the list came out in 2009, and he was alleged to have traveled to Afghanistan." (For a closer look at the Saudi terror list, see Boucek's and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's recently released interactive guide to 11 figures on it, pictured at top right).

    "The [U.S.] official said the same person is No. 68 on Interpol's most wanted list, where his name was spelled 'Al-Shehri' and his birthdate was listed as Sept. 17, 1981," the AP's Kimberly Dozier reported.

    Read More »from Senior al Qaeda operative killed in Pakistan, U.S. says
  • (Eric Feferberg/AP)• Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to address the UN General Assembly in New York next week ahead of Palestinian UN bid. (Globes)

    • The European Union is urging the Palestinians to seek a more modest upgrade of their international status at the UN. (Reuters)

    • President Obama will award the Medal of Honor to Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer Thursday. (Marine Corps)

    • French President Nicholas Sarkozy and UK Prime Minister David Cameron do a victory lap in the Libyan capital Tripoli. (NY Times)

    Read More »from Daily planet: Cameron, Sarkozy take Tripoli victory lap
  • On Thursday, President Obama will award the Medal of Honor to Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer.

    Meyer will become the third living recipient--and first Marine--to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan, the White House said. He is also the first living former Marine to receive the highest U.S. military honor since the Vietnam war, a Marine Corps press officer told The Envoy Wednesday.

    The heroic conduct Meyer displayed in saving the lives of 13 fellow Marines and 23 Afghan soldiers occurred in September 2009 in Kunar Province, Afghanistan. The rules of engagement in place at the time have caused controversy and some bitterness.

    Meyer was serving as a member of a Marine Corps training team embedded with Afghan National Army forces in Gangjal, Afghanistan on September 8, 2009.

    "A full moon was drenching the mountains in ghostly light as some 60 Afghan soldiers, 20 border police officers, 13 Marine and U.S. Army trainers and I set out for Ganjgal at 3 a.m. from the U.S. base in the Shakani District," McClatchy national security reporter Jonathan Landay, who was embedded with the unit at the time, reported in September 2009.

    The team was ambushed and came under sustained Taliban fire and rocket attack. However, U.S. commanders repeatedly denied the request to unleash artillery rounds and provide air cover, under rules of engagement then recently put in place to reduce civilian casualties.

    "U.S. commanders, citing new rules to avoid civilian casualties, rejected repeated calls to unleash artillery rounds at attackers dug into the slopes and tree lines—despite being told repeatedly that they weren't near the village," Landay reported. "We waited more than an hour for U.S. helicopters to arrive, despite earlier assurances that air cover would be five minutes away."

    Read More »from Medal of Honor recipient highlights Marine’s valor as well as risks US troops faced under controversial rules of engagement


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