American shrapnel linked to al-Qaida leader’s death

first_imgMIRAN SHAH, Pakistan – Shrapnel that appeared to be from an American-made missile was found Sunday at the house where Pakistan said a top al-Qaida operative was killed in an explosion, although President George W. Bush’s national security adviser declined to confirm the death. U.S. and Pakistani officials would not verify an NBC report, citing anonymous officials, that the attack on the house where Hamza Rabia reportedly died was launched by a U.S. drone. But local residents found at least two pieces of shrapnel at the blast scene inscribed with the designation of the Hellfire missile, which is carried by the U.S. Air Force’s unmanned, remote-controlled Predator aircraft. The metal pieces bore the designator “AGM-114,” the words “guided missile” and the initials “US.” “At this point we are not in a position publicly to confirm that he is dead. But if he is, that is a good thing for the war on terror,” Hadley told “Fox News Sunday.” Rabia was involved in planning two assassination plots against Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, and “we believe he was involved in planning for attacks against the United States,” Hadley said. The senior Pakistani intelligence official said the missile attack blew up a stockpile of bomb-making materials, grenades and other munitions. Pakistan Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao said Rabia’s two Syrian bodyguards also died in the explosion. Pakistani officials said Rabia’s death was confirmed by DNA tests. But the Dawn newspaper, citing officials it did not identify, said Saturday his body had been retrieved by associates from outside Pakistan. Dawn also cited unnamed sources saying the attack may have been launched from two pilotless planes. Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed declined to comment on the report about Rabia’s remains but said there was “other information” besides the DNA tests that confirmed his identity. “He was a high-profile commander in the network. We were tracing him for the last two years,” Sherpao told The Associated Press on Sunday. “Naturally any person killed in their hierarchy is a big blow for them.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBlues bury Kings early with four first-period goals John Pike, director of the defense Web site GlobalSecurity.org, said the Hellfire is used almost exclusively by the U.S. military. Al-Qaida operatives would be unlikely to have Hellfire missiles, Pike said, although he said the possibility could not be completely discounted. A man who lives near the house said he heard at least two detonations and saw a white streak of light before a missile hit the house, sparking a huge explosion. “I ran to my home fearing it may hit me,” said Mohammed Nasir, adding that residents were unaware that foreigners were living in their neighborhood. A senior Pakistani intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to talk to the media, said Saturday that Rabia died in a huge explosion set off by a missile attack. U.S. national security adviser Stephen Hadley declined to confirm that Rabia, said to be among al-Qaida’s top five leaders and responsible for planning overseas attacks, was dead or that the attack was carried out by a pilotless U.S. plane. last_img read more

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