London, Asharq Al-Awsat – A statement by the Al-Qaeda organization released on an Islamic website yesterday confirmed that the organization’s chemical weapons expert was indeed killed, something that Pakistani officials had already confirmed.
The statement, signed by Mustafa Abu-al-Yazid, the organization’s leader in Afghanistan who is known by the alias “Said al-Muhasib”, said Abu-Khabab al-Masri joined the “convoys of heroes” along with those killed with him.
The United States had put a $5 million reward for getting its hands on the Egyptian Midhat Mursi al-Sayyid Umar, “Abu-Khabab”, who was suspected of running a training camp in Afghanistan. The statement, dated 30 July, said the persons killed with him were Abu-Muhammad Ibrahim Bin Abi al-Farajal Masri, Abdul Wahab al-Masri, Abu-Islam al-Masri, and “some of their sons.” Press reports had mentioned that Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al-Qaeda’s second strongman, was killed in the same raid, which the Taliban movement in Pakistan denied.
The American “CBS” television network said it has an electronic message indicating that Al-Zawahiri was injured by missiles fired on 28 July on the tribal areas south of Waziristan. The Pakistani army also asserted that it had no information indicating that Al-Zawahiri was killed. Islamists in London disclosed to Asharq Al-Awsat that Abu-Muhammad Ibrahim Bin Abi al-Faraj al-Masri who was killed with Al-Qaeda’s chemical expert Abu-Khabab is the son of Muhammad Sharaf, the jurisprudent and Shariaa judge of the Egyptian “Jihad” group who was jailed in Egypt in 1999 in the “Returnees from Albania” case.
The Islamic Observation Center in London revealed some years ago that Muhammad Sharaf, “Abu-al-Faraj”, was deported to Egypt from the United Arab Emirates. Yasir al-Sirri, the Egyptian Islamist who runs the Observation Center told Asharq Al-Awsat that the dead included Abu-Muhammad Ibrahim, the son of Abu-al-Faraj, the “Jihad’s” Shariaa judge who resigned from the group in 1994. He added that Abu-Islam who was killed in the missile attack is also the husband of Abu-al-Faraj al-Masri’s daughter. He pointed out that he asserted from following up the news of the fundamentalists that Abu-Khabab’s sons Muhammad and Abdullah are still detained in Egyptian jails. On his part, Dr. Hani al-Sibai, director of the London-based Al-Maqrizi Center, disclosed that Ibrahim knew the Koran by heart like his father, grew up among the tribes in Yemen, and then lived in Khartoum with his father and brother Musab who was executed by the Jihad group in 1994 for spying on Ayman al-Zawahiri’s leaders after Egyptian intelligence had recruited him. He said Ibrahim is the eldest son of Muhammad Sharaf, noting that the latter left the Jihad group after his son’s execution in 1994. Al-Sibai stressed that the statement signed by Al-Qaeda’s leader in Afghanistan Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, alias Sheikh Said al-Muhasib, was authentic and was in general terms and not detailed. He pointed out that the statement did not talk in detail about the number of persons killed or the date of the American raid and said this might be done at a later date after collecting as much information as possible. He added that Al-Qaeda did not lose much by the death of its chemical expert Abu-Khabab because he did not travel to Europe or any other country throughout his life but spent the past 20 years in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the border strip training generations of Al-Qaeda’s youths on the use of poisons, chemicals, and explosives. Experts in these fields have graduated through him. He also noted that Abu-Khabab mastered the region’s Pashtu, Dari, and Urdu languages and moved easily in the border strip and had good relations with Bayatullah Mehsud, leader of Pakistan’s Taliban, and the Taliban movement inside Afghanistan and was trusted by them. Al-Sibai expressed his belief that a tip from a Pakistani led to pinpointing the house in South Waziristan where the Egyptian group was staying. The statement, whose credibility could not be confirmed, did not specify the conditions of their deaths. Pakistani officials reported on 28 July that Al-Qaeda’s chemical expert Midhat Mursi al-Sayyid Umar, known as Abu-Khabab, was killed in a missile attack in Pakistan while local people asserted that the missiles were fired by an American drone. The United States has put up a $5 million reward for getting its hands on the 54-year old Egyptian Midhat who was suspected of running training camps in Afghanistan.
On his part, a senior official in Pakistani intelligence said that this site was the hideout of Abu-Khabab and his colleagues and we received information that he was the target of the American strike. Abu-Khabab’s connections with terror go back to the middle 1980’s at least when he was a prominent member of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad group which was led by Ayman al-Zawahiri and which merged with Al-Qaeda organization. He trained hundreds of fighters over the years in Al-Qaeda’s camps on the use of explosives, poisons, and primitive chemical weapons according to American intelligence documents. American sources had earlier reported that Abu-Khabab was killed in an American air raid on a building in the Pakistani tribal areas in January 2006.
Recent intelligence reports disclosed that Abu-Khabab trained Western recruits to carry out chemical attacks in Europe and probably the United States as he did when he was running the “Khabab camp” in Afghanistan’s Tora Bora’s areas before the 9/11 attacks, according to an American intelligence official who asked to remain unnamed.