ISLAMABAD - The US predators’ recent airstrikes in North Waziristan Agency have killed 50 members of Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) including its deputy chief Ustad Ahmad Farooq and Qari Imran, the outfit’s incharge of Afghanistan, according to organisation’s official media wing.

Qari Imran was killed during a missile strike in Lawara area of North Waziristan on January 5 while Ustad Ahmad Farooq was targeted 10 days later by another drone strike in Shawal area of the tribal agency. The deaths were announced on 43-minute audio tape produced by As Sahad, AQIS’s propaganda arm.

Osama Mahmood, the official spokesperson of the outfit, said that during the ongoing military operation Zarb-e-Azb actual targets for both Pakistani armies and US drone strikes were the members of AQIS. Since the start of the operation ‘out of eleven drone strikes 10 were directed against Al-Qaeda’.

“Around 50 members of AQIS were killed in these strikes including Ustad Farooq and Qari Imran”.

He further said that the outfit had also lost ‘around 50’ of its local supporters”.

According to the statement, Ustad Ahmad Farooq was killed on January 15 during a US drone strike in Shawal, a border area between North and South Waziristan agencies. His real name was Raja Muhammad Salman who hailed from federal capital Islamabad. Prior to joining Al-Qaeda, he earned a degree in Islamic Shariah from International Islamic University Islamabad. He was a scholarly figure amongst the ranks of Al-Qaeda who was associated with communication and preaching wing of the outfit.

He was appointed on this position following the death of Dr Abdul Waheed, Al-Qaeda senior member from Karachi, during a US drone strike on March 16, 2008. Farooq translated the writing of senior al-Qaeda leaders into local languages and wrote different publications for the outfit. When Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri launched AQIS on September 03, 2014 he was made deputy to Maulana Asim Omar, the head of the outfit.

Qari Imran, a member of AQIS Shura and incharge of the group in Afghanistan, was killed by US predator along with ‘six comrades’ on January 5 in Shawal area of North Waziristan.

Qari Imran whose real name was Qari Obaidullah belonged to Multan area of Punjab. He had received religious education from Khair-ul-Uloom Multan. “He spent 20 years in warfare fought in Kashmir, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Pakistan,” according to Usama Mahmood. Qari Imran remained in security agencies’ detentions for almost four years for “his links with Arab militants”. After his release, he formed his own group of militants. However, he merged his group with Maulana Asim Omar-led AQIS in September 2014 and assumed the role of incharge Afghanistan. When operation Zarb-e-Azb was launched in North Waziristan he was invited for leading Al-Qaeda fighters against the security forces in the area.

Osama Mahmood alleged that not only US drones carried out attacks during the operation against their men but “US jet fighters also took part in the offensive”.

According to the outfit, Pakistan is helping the US to win a war in which the latter had badly failed during last 13 years.

“We are chasing you; you are all our targets,” he said while warning the political and military leadership of the country.

US airstrike kills 4 in NWA

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Agencies add: At least four militants were killed and few others reportedly injured when a US drone targeted hideout of militants here on Sunday.

Sources said an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) of US fired two missiles at a hideout in Shawal area of North Waziristan Agency along the Pak-Afghan.

As a result of missiles attack, the hideout was completely destroyed resulting in death of four militants and leaving few others injured. Some sources said that the militants killed in US drone strike belonged to the ‘Sajna’ group of the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan.

A spokesman for al-Qaeda’s new Indian branch said the US drone strikes in Pakistan have killed two of its leaders.

In an audio message released Sunday, Usama Mahmood identified the dead as deputy chief Ahmed Farooq and Qari Imran, in charge of the group’s Afghan affairs.

Mahmood said a drone strike in North Waziristan killed Imran, while a later drone strike killed Farooq. The US drone attack come amid the ongoing operations Zarb-e-Azb, Khyber- 1 and Khyber- 2 against militants.