The Pakistan military said today that it killed a top al-Qaida commander in the early hours of Saturday in a raid in the country's troubled north-western region, close to the border with Afghanistan.
Adnan el Shukrijuma, a Saudi Arabia national and senior al-Qaida commander, was killed along with his associate and a local facilitator in Wana, the headquarters of restive South Waziristan tribal region," said Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media arm of the Pakistan military.
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) regards him as al-Qaida's global operations chief, a post once held by the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
The raid happened in the wake of a recently concluded two-week long visit of army chief General Raheel Sharif to the US where he assured the US leadership that the military action in tribal areas was taken without any discrimination among the militants.
The military said that the commander had sneaked into South Waziristan from neighbourng North Waziristan where a five-month long military offensive is underway against myriad factions of home-grown and foreign militants. The operation, Zarb-e-Azb (strike of the Prophet's sword), has caused an exodus of over a million civilians.
"Shukrijuma was killed in Shin Warsak area, near Wana, during a raid. The slain leader was a member of al-Qaida's central shura and was heading the organization's foreign operations wing," the ISPR said.
The raid was carried out on local intelligence tip-off. One security personnel also got killed in crossfire during the raid on Shukrijuma's hideout.
Local militant sources from Wana said that Shukrijuma had escaped several drone attack attempts in recent months, and took refuge in Wana to evade frequent aerial strikes from Pakistan's armed forces and CIA-driven drones in the militancy-plagued North Waziristan.
The Mullah Nazir faction of the local Waziri Taliban holds sway in Wana, South Wazirstan. The faction had signed a peace treaty with the military in 2007. Currently, the Nazir faction is led by a bus-driver turned militant commander, Bahawal Khan, aka Salahuddin Ayubi.
Shukrijuma was one of the five accused responsible for orchestrating a terrorist plot to bomb New York City's subway system and fuel pipelines at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport in 2010. The FBI had announced a $5 million bounty over his head.
South Waziristan is one of Pakistan's loosely governed seven tribal agencies along the rugged Pak-Afghan border. The region hosts multiple dreaded militant outfits. Pakistan's army has been locked in several operations to wipe out militants from the tribal belt.