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January 18, 2006
The Bomb Maker Who Missed Dessert

After the CIA dropped a bomb on a compound in Damadola, Pakistani sources tried to play off that the American attack had killed a family of jewelers as they sat down to dinner. Tonight we find out that one of the gems who didn't make it to dessert was none other than chief al-Qaeda WMD and explosives expert Midhat Mursi, also known as Abu Khabab al-Masri, the terrorist leader who trained shoe bomber Richard Reid:

ABC News has learned that Pakistani officials now believe that al Qaeda's master bomb maker and chemical weapons expert was one of the men killed in last week's U.S. missile attack in eastern Pakistan.

Midhat Mursi, 52, also known as Abu Khabab al-Masri, was identified by Pakistani authorities as one of four known major al Qaeda leaders present at an apparent terror summit in the village of Damadola early last Friday morning.

The United States had posted a $5 million reward for Mursi's capture. He is described by authorities as the man who ran al Qaeda's infamous Derunta training camp in Afghanistan, where he used dogs and other animals as subjects for experiments with poison and chemicals. His explosives training manual is still regarded as the bible for al Qaeda terrorists around the world.

It seems that the nice family dinner that the media attempted to portray more resembled the Corleones than the Bradys. Pakistan now admits that the dinner was instead a summit for al-Qaeda leadership, perhaps a planning session, demonstrating that American intel in the Damadola region may outstrip that of the Pakistanis themselves. Included in the dead were two other key AQ leaders: Khalid Habib, the al Qaeda operations chief for Pakistan and Afghanistan, and Abdul Rehman al Magrabi, a senior operations commander for al Qaeda. The purpose of the meeting was to plan for attacks on American positions in Afghanistan.

Now, of course, that planning and finance will not take place, and AQ will have to gather less experienced and less connected replacements for those three. No one knows yet who the other two dead terrorists were. The possibility exists still that Ayman al-Zawahiri died in the attack as well, but even if he missed the party, he knows that the Americans have drawn a close bead on him. He also knows that we will not withhold our attack out of shyness or an unwillingness to engage based on which side of the border Zawahiri dips his bread.

Sleep tight, old man. We'll be coming for you soon.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 18, 2006 6:57 PM

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