“one of the dead militants as Abdur Rahman, a senior commander of the Pakistani Taliban. “
“Abdur Rehman retired in 2007 from the Pakistan army as a Major. He worked closely with Lashkar-e-Taiba and coordinated the activities of a Chicago man, David Headley. He was arrested in 2009 in Pakistan on unspecified charges and later released.”
By Saud Mehsud
DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan (Reuters) – A suspected U.S. drone strike killed several Pakistani Taliban militants in North Waziristan close to the Afghanistan border, a regional government official and an Islamist militant said on Thursday, in a rare strike on Pakistani soil.
If confirmed, the air strike, which happened on Wednesday, would be only the second drone attack inside the nuclear-armed nation since U.S. President Donald Trump took office in January.
Kamran Afridi, a senior regional official in the tribal region of North Waziristan, told Reuters in a text message a “drone strike” had struck Pakistani Taliban militants close to the Afghanistan border and killed seven fighters.
Afridi, who holds the post of ‘political agent’ in North Waziristanl, identified one of the dead militants as Abdur Rahman, a senior commander of the Pakistani Taliban. Several other militant sources said Rahman was killed.
Abdullah Wazirstani, spokesman for North Waziristan Taliban, a group linked to the Pakistani Taliban, said the strike killed three civilian “laborers” and seven militants from the Pakistani Taliban, which is also known as TTP.
Malik Waheedullah, a local tribal leader, told Reuters he saw two missiles strike a mountain home which caught fire. “I drove away as fast as I could,” he said.
One Pakistani intelligence official and government source said they believed the strike to be a U.S. drone attack.
U.S. officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
North Waziristan was a Taliban stronghold until 2014, when Pakistan’s military launched a major offensive against the group and pushed many of its fighters across the border into Afghanistan.
U.S. drone attacks inside Pakistan have become rare over the past few years. In its last high-profile attack inside Pakistan, the United States last May killed Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour in the southwestern province of Baluchistan.
(Additional reporting by Javed Hussain, Jibran Ahmad and Haji Mujataba; writing by Drazen Jorgic; editing by Saad Sayeed and Ralph Boulton)
Copyright 2017 Thomson Reuters.
Department of Justice Press Release
Abdur Rehman Hashim Syed (Abdur Rehman), aka Pasha
The two-count complaint unsealed against Abdur Rehman, which was filed on Oct. 20, 2009, charges him with conspiracy to murder and maim persons in a foreign country, and providing material support to that foreign terrorism conspiracy. Abdur Rehman allegedly participated in the planning of a terrorist attack in Denmark, coordinated surveillance of the intended targets, and facilitated communications regarding the surveillance and planning with a member of Lashkar and Kashmiri.
Abdur Rehman, who was not named previously but whose alleged participation was described in the initial charges against Headley and Rana, allegedly played the central role in communicating with Headley and facilitating contacts with other co-conspirators in Pakistan, including members of Lashkar. During Headley’s trip to Pakistan in January 2009, Abdur Rehman took him to the FATA region of Pakistan to meet with Kashmiri and solicit the participation of Kashmiri and his organization in the planned attack on the Danish newspaper, according to the complaint against Abdur Rehman. A search of Headley’s luggage when he was arrested revealed a list of phone numbers, including a Pakistani number that he allegedly had used to contact Abdur Rehman.
The count against Headley charging conspiracy to bomb public places in India that resulted in deaths carries a maximum statutory penalty of life imprisonment or death. All of the other counts against Headley carry a maximum of life imprisonment, except providing material support to the Denmark terror plot, which carries a maximum prison term of 15 years.
The conspiracy to murder or maim persons in a foreign country charge against Abdur Rehman carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, and the count of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorism carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
The prosecution of Headley and Abdur Rehman is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel Collins and Victoria J. Peters from the Northern District of Illinois, with assistance from the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. The investigation into the Mumbai attacks is continuing with the active participation of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.
The public is reminded that criminal charging documents contain mere allegations that are not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.