PESHAWAR: Al Qaeda has confirmed killing of its two important leaders in US drone strikes in North Waziristan in January this year.

In an audio message released to the media, Usama Mahmood, the organisation’s spokesman for Asia, said Ustad Ahmad Farooq, Al Qaeda Asia’s deputy leader and Qari Imran, a member of the group’s central Shura and in-charge of North Waziristan, had been killed in the drone attacks.

He said Ustad Farooq’s real name was Raja Mohammad Salman. He belonged to Islamabad, studied Sharia at the Islamic University, Islamabad, and remained in-charge of Al Qaeda in Pakistan for seven years.

He was appointed the organisation’s deputy chief for Asia by Maulana Asim Umar.

The spokesman said Ustad Farooq was in North Waziristan when the Pakistan Army launched Operation Zarb-i-Azb. He was killed in the drone attack in Shawal on Jan 15.

About Qari Imran, the spokesman said, his real name was Qari Ubaidullah and he belonged to Multan. He got religious education from Khairul Madaris in Multan. He fought in Kashmir, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Pakistan.

He was once detained by a Pakistani intelligence agency. Qari Imran was killed along with six others in the US drone strike in Lawara Mandi area of North Waziristan on Jan 5.

The spokesman said that about 50 Al Qaeda members had been killed and the same number injured in US drone strikes.

Published in Dawn, April 13th, 2015

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