Hunting Al Qaeda

A US strike killed a senior al Qaeda leader who was responsible for facilitating the group’s efforts in Syria, Turkey, and Europe, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said Wednesday. A remotely piloted aircraft carried out the strike near Idlib, Syria, on Oct. 17. Haydar Kirkan was a “long-serving and experienced facilitator and courier” and the group’s most senior external terror attack planner in Syria, Davis said. Another al Qaeda leader, Abu al-Farai al-Masri, was killed in the same area on Oct. 3. Both were said to be long-standing al Qaeda members who had ties to Osama bin Laden. US strikes also recently targeted two top al Qaeda leaders, Faruq al-Qatani and Bilal al-Utabi, in Afghanistan and members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The Pentagon is still assessing the results of the Oct. 23 strikes in Afghanistan, Davis said. The Oct. 21 strike in Yemen killed five AQAP fighters, including a leader and operational planner, Abu Hadi al Bayhani. The three separate strikes against al Qaeda operatives in three separate countries show the “continued transregional nature of al Qaeda and our transregional approach,” Davis said.