Posted: 28 Feb 2014 11:03 AM PST
Earlier this month, The Associated Press disclosed that the Obama administration is debating the addition of an American member of al Qaeda to its list of operatives to be targeted for assassination. [See Threat Matrix report, Who is the American the US seeks to target with drones?.] The unnamed American in the AP report was involved in producing and deploying IEDs, or roadside bombs, against US troops in Afghanistan. He was said to be based in Pakistan.
Today, The New York Times provided more information on the American jihadist. His full name has not been disclosed, only his nom de guerre, Abdullah al Shami, which indicates that one or both of his parents are from Syria:
Keep in mind that up until two weeks ago, Abdullah al Shami was unknown to everyone except those within the government involved with identifying him and dealing with adding him to the target list. Numerous times in the past we didn't know the identity of important al Qaeda leaders and operatives until their names were leaked to the press or they were killed or captured. There are scores if not hundreds more al Qaeda leaders and operatives who operate beneath the radar.
For this reason (and many others, such as narrow or incomprehensible definitions of al Qaeda), we here at the The Long War Journal object to the theory pushed by Obama administration officials and even some in US intelligence circles that al Qaeda's "core" consists only of Ayman al Zawahiri and he is hiding in a cave in Pakistan, the group has been "decimated" and defeated, and such.