Report: New Al-Qaeda Operations Head Aims At Activating Operations
A Palestinian who personally knows most of Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda's recruits is the network’s new operations head and is believed to be planning new attacks against the United States, AFP cited a New York Times Thursday report.
30-year-old Abu Zubaydah is trying to activate al-Qaeda sleeper cells for new strikes against the United States and its allies, US officials told the prestigious daily.
"He's as dangerous as anyone we are looking for, including [al-Qaeda leader Osama] bin Laden," a senior law enforcement official said. "But it's scary how little we know."
Believed to have been born in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, to a prominent Palestinian family, Abu Zubaydah has been one of Osama bin Laden's top lieutenants since the late 1990s and was one of the few al-Qaeda leaders who traveled to get acquainted with the group's cells around the world, according to the report.
By carefully hiding details about his true identity and avoiding cameras, he has been able to escape capture. His activities have been so hard to track, the daily said, that the US Justice Department has never included him in its arrest warrants for other al-Qaeda leaders.
Abu Zubaydah has been linked directly to the planning of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States and also to plans for a wave of terror attacks throughout Europe that were to have taken place after the September 11 attacks.
Those plans, the officials said, included a pair of attacks against US embassies in Paris and Sarajevo.
The US officials said Abu Zubaydah is especially dangerous because he is one of the few al-Qaeda leaders believed to know the identities of the thousands of terrorist recruits who were well-trained throughout Afghanistan.
While in Peshawar, Pakistan, in the 1990s he was in charge of screening young al-Qaeda recruits, according to the report. One US official said Abu Zubaydah gave the recruits their assignments to al-Qaeda cells around the world.
Furthermore, the officials said they are persuaded Zubaydah has taken over the position of al-Qaeda's chief of military operations from Muhammad Atef, who is believed to have been killed in a US bombing raid in Afghanistan in November. (albawaba.com)
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