by Florian Flade
Abu Dujanah as-Sanaa – Yemeni al-Qaeda bomb maker killed in 2009
What is the size of al-Qaeda in 2010? The question about the number of fighters or active fighting member of al-Qaeda Central, meaning of the organization in Pakistan and Afghanistan remains a mystery. Counter-Terrorism officials and intelligence sources say al-Qaeda in AfPak probably consists of just a few hundred members, most of them Arab nationals as well as Central Asians, Uighurs, North Africans, Punjabi- and Baluch-Muslims.
Information about how the al-Qaeda structure in the Pakistani tribal areas looks like is very rare. Only the martyrdom statements, videos and information released after an AQ member is killed by a CIA drone, give a slight hint to what is happening to AQ in Waziristan. One of the Arab fighters active in the drone-hit area along the Pakistan-Afghan border, was Abu Abdelrahman al-Qahtani, a Yemeni jihadi.
The most influential Arabic Jihadi forum today released biographical details of al-Qahtani after he was killed by a US drone strike in recent weeks. He died 45 years-old, the forum post says, stating he spent half of his lifetime fighting Jihad – against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s and then joined al-Qaeda again a few years ago to fight the US invasion.
Al-Qahtani and several other al-Qaeda fighters died in a „brutal crusader bombing on a camp along the Afghan border“, the Online-Jihadis said. The martyr was himself an active member of the Internet forum and participated in posting news and material regularly from the Waziristan region. He was also befriended with the two Yemenis „Abu Dujanah as-Sanaani“ and „Ghazwan al-Yemeni“ who joined al-Qaeda in Waziristan, worked as chief bomb makers and were killed in drone attacks last year. A picture of Abu Dujanah as-Sanaani showing him sitting in a hut in Waziristan, was released in addition to the martyrdom information of Abu Abdelrahman al-Qahtani.
Among al-Qahtani´s friends was Jordanian suicide bomber Humam Khalil al-Balawi alias „Abu Dujanah al-Khorasani“ who killed a CIA team in Afghan Khost on New Years 2009.
Arab al-Qaeda fighters in Waziristan
The case of the Yemeni Jihadi shows that – although Waziristan is hit hard by the CIA´s drone campaign – al-Qaeda Central still attracts Arab recruits and it is possible the stream of Islamists from the Middle East is even increasing. Raw video footage and images of Arab nationals living in Waziristan appeared some weeks ago on Jihadi forums – a clear proof the propaganda as a recruitment tool is effective.