DepkaFile counter-terrorism sources and Al Qaeda press contacts dispute Hamza Rabia’s reported death by US drone attack and deny his role as No. 3 in Al Qaeda.
On Dec.3, Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf declared his 200 percent certainty that Egyptian-born Abu Hamza Rabia was killed. Headline stories in the world media proclaimed he was in a house in Isory village, North Waziristan near the Afghan border, when it was hit by two missiles shot from CIA pilotless Hellfire planes.
DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources report that Rabia was somewhere else at the time of the attack. A month ago, on Nov. 5, he was in a building with his family in the same region when it was struck from US drones. Rabia’s wife and 11-year old daughter were killed. He escaped with a broken leg and has been fleeing from village to village ever since.
Intelligence circles involved in counter-terror activity were skeptical from the first about the report which maintained that five al Qaeda operatives died in the attack. It later transpired that the victims were two sons of the house aged 17 and 8. Their father Haji Mohammad Siddiq claimed no “foreigners” were living in his house or those of his neighbors.
It is not Al Qaeda’s practice to confirm or deny the loss of senior operatives, but Tuesday, Dec. 6, the terror group publicly contradicted the announcement of Rabia’s death, asserting “he continues to carry out his war duties.”
According to our sources, Abu Hamza Rabia is in charge of an operational sector in North Waziristan – but is not a member of al Qaeda’s high command and certainly not Osama bin Laden’s Number Three. He was subordinate to Abu Faraj al-Libbi who was captured by the Pakistani security service last May and handed over to the Americans.