A CIA drone strike on July 5 is reported to have killed an Australian, Saifullah, an alleged jihadist local leader linked to al Qaeda.
Analysis by the Bureau as part of its ongoing drones project has recorded just a handful of western jihadists killed in US drone attacks in the past year, among hundreds of deaths of Pakistani and Afghan alleged militants.
Two missiles fired by a drone struck a guesthouse near the main bazaar in Mir Ali, North Waziristan, at around 11pm (Pakistan time) on Tuesday. Six people were reported killed and five wounded.
Saifullah, reportedly 50 years old, has been described as a middle-ranking al Qaeda leader, though little more is known about him.
Fresh Somalia strikes
Two fresh drone strikes were reported on Wednesday night against militant forces in southern Somalia.
As the Bureau reported , Somalia only recently became the sixth nation in which US armed drones are operating, with a confirmed strike on June 23.
According to reports, Somalia’s deputy defence minister Abdirashid Mohamed Hidig has said that drones attacked ‘militant camps’ in the towns of Dhoobley and Afmadow in the south of the country late on Wednesday evening, killing ‘dozens’.
Drone attacks and other US military interventions in Somalia are carried out by US Special Forces – the Joint Special Operations Command, or JSOC.
A spokesperson for Australia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry told the Bureau: “We are aware of reports that an al Qaeda commander, Saifullah, allegedly an Australian, was killed in a drone strike in North Waziristan, Pakistan on 5 July. The relevant agencies are currently investigating the alleged Australian connection.”
If his death is confirmed Saifullah would be the second al Qaeda commander killed by CIA drones in Pakistan in the past four weeks. US intelligence sources last night finally confirmed that they now accept that Ilyas Kashmiri, one of al Qaeda’s most senior leaders, was indeed killed in a drone strike on June 3.
The Obama administration has been hesitant to believe reports of Kashmiri’s death, which have been claimed on many previous occasions.
Sources told Fox News that “it is safe to say he’s a goner.”