Islamabad: About 50 militants of al-Qaeda’s Indian branch, including two senior leaders, have been killed in US drone strikes over the past few months, the outfit said today. The al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) says a series of drone attacks have killed nearly 50 of its members, including deputy head Ustad Ahmad Farooq and Qari Imran, the group’s central council member and in charge of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
They were killed in separate US drone attacks in North Waziristan in January, AQIS spokesperson Usama Mehmood said in an audio message. The audio was emailed to the media today. Al-Qaeda launched AQIS in September last year under the leadership of Pakistani Maulvi Muhammad Asim, who has studied in Karachi and is the author of several Islamic books.
“Mujahideen al-Qaeda had been the main target of the drone strikes since the security forces have launched military operation in North Waziristan in June last year. Taliban also came under attack but the real target was al-Qaeda,” the Express Tribune quoted the AQIS spokesperson as saying. Mehmood said several senior al-Qaeda leaders and members were killed in the strikes, adding the Americans specifically focused on the group and 10 out of 11 drones hit AQIS.
He confirmed the drone attacks have killed around 50 al- Qaeda members and a similar number of their local supporters. Ustad Ahmad Farooq was killed in the Shawal area of North Waziristan in a US drone attack on January 15 after he was surrounded by American, Pakistan and Afghan ground forces. Farooq belonged to Islamabad and had received ‘Sharia’ education in the International Islamic University Islamabad.
Ustad Qari Imran was killed along with six members in the Lwara area of North Waziristan on January 5. He was the Afghanistan al Qaeda in-charge. Qari Imran, whose real name was Qari Ubaidullah, belonged to Multan and had been associated with militant groups for 20 years.
The spokesperson said Imran had supervised some suicide attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan. When security forces launched the operation last year, he was in charge of the group in North Waziristan.