Pakistan says its troops have killed the spy chief of the al-Qaida terror network in the recently concluded military operation near the Afghan border.
Military spokesman Major General Shaukat Sultan says more than 60 suspected terrorists were killed and 163 were captured during the 12-day offensive in the mountainous region known as South Waziristan. He told reporters in Islamabad Monday that nearly half of the detainees are foreigners.
He said that a top al-Qaida leader from the central Asian republic of Uzbekistan, Tahir Yuldashev, was wounded in the battle, but managed to escape with his fighters. The spokesman says the Uzbek militant is the 10th most senior member of the al-Qaida terror network.
He also said the Pakistan troops killed a man he called al-Qaida’s spy chief.
“It has also been confirmed by the intelligence sources that Mr. Abdullah who was the chief of the al-Qaida intelligence, he was killed in this operation,” he said.
General Sultan would not give further details about al-Qaida’s spy chief, not even a full name.
Afghan and Arab sources believe Mr. Abdullah’s real name was Abdul Wahab, an Iraqi national. They say he was heading the network’s operations in northern Afghanistan until the Taleban government in Kabul fell in 2001.
The sources say the al-Qaida militant also participated in a major battle against the U.S.-led anti-terrorism forces two years ago in southeastern Afghanistan’s Shahi Kot region.
There is no independent information immediately available about the al-Qaida spy and his name does not appear on a U.S. government list of top terror suspects.
General Sultan says the operation in the border region was part of the government’s efforts to flush out foreign militants hiding in Pakistan. He says the operation has achieved most of its objectives.
“We have broken down and we have dismantled a hardened net and a hardened den of the miscreants,” he said. “They are on the run. We will ensure that they do not re-group.”
General Sultan says that 46 soldiers and other security personnel were killed in the operation, being described as the biggest offensive in Pakistan against al-Qaida. Tribesmen in the area also say several civilians died in the fight.