Brian Ross of ABC News writes in The Blotter,
Ayman al Zawahiri was the target of a Predator missile attack...Despite earlier reports that the missiles had been launched by Pakistani military helicopters, Pakistani intelligence sources now tell ABC News that the missiles were fired from a U.S. Predator drone plane.According to Ross' report, 2-5 Qaida senior leaders were killed including the brains behind the UK airline plot broken up by British and American intelligence. There is no confirmation that Zawahiri is among the dead. It is unlikely he was there, however, because madrassas are so heavily surveilled they are the amongst the most likely targets of Coalition targeting. Pakistani officials believe they
have "boxed" Zawahiri in a 40-square-mile area between the Khalozai Valley in Bajaur and the village of Pashat in Kunar, Afghanistan.Mushtaq Yusufzai of MSNBC, was about a mile away from the madrassa. He was there to report on the expected truce talks. He was quickly on the scene of the attack and reports what he witnessed:
NBC: On-scene at blasted Pakistan madrassa
'Terror' school where 80 killed linked to bin Laden and Taliban, locals say
Updated: 11:19 a.m. PT Oct 30, 2006
CHINGAI, Pakistan - NBC News’ Mushtaq Yusufzai was about a mile away from the Pakistan school and militant training camp — known as a madrassa — when it was attacked by Pakistani forces on Monday, killing an estimated 80 suspected militants.
Yusufzai, who is usually based in the region's main city, Peshawar, was in the area to cover a peace deal that expected to be signed on Monday between Bajur tribal leaders and the military. He describes the scene in the village of Chingai, near Khar, the main town in the Bajur tribal district, after the attack and discusses the reputation of the school prior to the attack.
What was the scene like after the air strike by Pakistani troops on the madrassa school training suspected militants?
It was dark and very early in the morning when the blast occurred. And then I heard helicopters over the village of Chingai where the madrassa school is located. People in the village immediately arrived at the scene of the air strike and were trying to recover bodies from the rubble. The school was flattened and completely destroyed.
I saw Faqir Mohammed, an al-Qaida commander in the Bajur tribal district. Usually the Taliban doesn't allow reporters to film things, but Mohammed let me interview him and film the scene near the school.
Prior to this attack, what was the reputation of school? Was it known to be a training ground for militants?
Yes, it was. Mohammed, the al-Qaida leader in the area, was one of the first people in the area to publicly support the Taliban and Osama bin Laden. He tells people that it is their responsibility to support the Taliban and Osama bin Laden because he says we are at war with people who are fighting Islam. He has said it is their responsibility to support mujahedeen and war with the West. The school was known as a strong supporter of the Taliban.
Mohammed’s deputy Maulana Liaquat Ali Hussain — a leader of the madrassa — was killed in the attack.
Mohammed has been accused of providing shelter to militants and even invited bin Laden’s deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, to the madrassa.
In his public speeches Mohammed has said it is our moral and religious obligation to support muhajadeen, to provide protection for muhajadeen, and shelter for others who have left their homes to perform jihad.
Mohammed was very emotional after the attack and swore jihad against what he called occupation forces.
And what has been the reaction to the attack?
People have condemned the attack and accused the government of President Musharraf of supporting the killing of innocent people.
People have already planned big demonstrations in Peshawar and around the Bajur region tomorrow to protest the attacks.
NBC News' Mushtaq Yusufzai is based in Peshawar, Pakistan.
Al-Qaida leaders were in the madrassa and Mohammad has only been accused of providing shelter to terrorists. The district Qaida boss was there and his second-in-command was killed in the madrassa. In public speeches these guys have said it's the responsibility of the people to kill Westerners, BUT all the dead guys are innocent.
Amazing. Just amazing.
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