Saturday, February 11, 2006

Zawahiri relative killed in US raid, al Qaeda deputy escaped

Islamabad, Feb 11: A close relative of al-Qaeda deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri was among five militants killed in a US air strike last month, but Zawahiri himself escaped, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf said.

Security officials said military ruler Musharraf was referring to Abdur Rehman al-Maghribi, Zawahiri's son-in-law and the head of al-Qaeda's media operations.

The January 13 attack on Damadola, a remote village in the Bajur tribal agency bordering Afghanistan, sparked protests in Pakistan after residents and officials said up to 18 civilians were also killed.

"Among the people who were killed in Bajur, one of them was a close relative of Zawahiri," Musharraf was quoted as saying by his spokesman Major General Shaukat Sultan.

"Zawahiri's son-in-law was killed in the Bajur strike," one security official told media persons on condition of anonymity.

Musharraf added that one of the dead was an "important person" with a five million dollar bounty on his head, however sultan said it was not clear if the president was talking about Zawahiri's relative or another person.

Egyptian Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's lieutentant and chief ideologue of the al-Qaeda terror network, was due at a house in the village on the day of the air strike but he failed to show, Musharraf added.

"Zawahiri was also supposed to be there but he did not come," spokesman sultan quoted Musharraf as telling media in northwest Pakistan.

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