Abd al Hadi Engineered First al Qaeda attacks in Israel and Britain
The CIA’s capture of one of Osama bin Laden’s most talented operations officers, Abd al Hadi al-Iraq, Abu Abdullah, 45, is a major American counter-terror coup which turns some hidden pages in al Qaeda’s arcane, bloodstained record.
Picked up last year, presumably while crossing from Iran into his native Iraq, he underwent exhaustive interrogation before being transferred to the Pentagon and the Guantanamo Bay interment center. Born in Mosul in 1960, a million dollar-reward was offered for his capture. He is 29th on Iraq’s most wanted terrorist list. In the 90s, he was a paramilitary leader in Afghanistan. During 2002-04, the captured man led efforts to attack U.S. forces in Afghanistan from Pakistan. He is also said to have plotted Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf’s assassination.
A Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman refused to confirm when or where he was captured, only that he was tasked with managing al Qaeda’s affairs and possibly focus on operations outside Iraq against Western targets.
Under US interrogation, his rich experience in charting al Qaeda’s offensive in the West has come to light. Al Hadi is now credited with plotting the first direct al Qaeda suicide attack inside Israel on direct orders from Osama bin Laden.
Two British Muslims were sent to blow up the US embassy in Tel Aviv on April 30, 2003. Instead, they bombed a Tel Aviv seafront bar, Mike’s Place, killing three Israelis and injuring 60.
Al Hadi was quick to spot the potential of young British Muslims of Pakistani origin, who are English-speaking and carry EU passports. Their recruitment was a major feat of this Iraqi-born terrorist commander’s global strategy. Two years later (according to the Sunday Times), he is said to have masterminded the July 7 suicide bombings on the British tube and a bus, leaving 52 dead and hundreds injured..
Asif Muhammed Hanif and Omar Khan Sharif, the Mike’s Place bombers, were headhunted at the radical Finsbury Park mosque in London. So too was Richard Reid, the failed shoe bomber serving time in the United States for attempting to blow up an American Airlines plane bound for Miami from Paris in Dec. 2002.
Past investigations established that Hanif, Sharif and Reid all spent time at Hamas training camps in the Gaza Strip before they embarked on their missions.
The al Hadi case confirms once again the farsightedness and long preparations al Qaeda invests in operational planning. In each case, every effort is made to wipe clean any leads to the chain of command after the suicide bombers are dead; the planners have a preset escape route that leaves counter-terror agents very few clues to work with.
Despite the close cooperation between the Israeli, American and British secret services in probing the Mike’s Place attack in 2003, the full scope and depth of Al Qaeda’s mobilization drive in Britain were not appreciated in time to avert the 7/7 bombings on London transport two years later. To this day, no one knows who exactly prepared the explosives used in Tel Aviv and gave the two bombers their instructions.
Full details of the Mike’s Place bombing, the 4th anniversary of which falls in exactly two days, appeared in debkafile on June 3, 2003. Click HERE
This attack was a flop for its planners in more ways than one, but it served as a useful dry run for the attacks which followed. Asif Hanif managed to detonate his bomb vest, but his partner did not. Omar Sharif escaped and two weeks later, a body identified by Israeli security services as his was washed up on the Jaffa coast.
Despite the expanded information-sharing arrangements allied counter-terror agencies, neither the British nor the Israeli secret services has been granted access to al Hadi to perhaps fill in some of the gaps in their investigations.
The optimistic assessments of some al Qaeda pundits in the West that Osama bin Laden is no more than an ideological figurehead of a fragmented terrorist organization was no doubt refuted by al Hadi. On April 25, Taiban commander Mullah Dadullah also asserted that bin Laden is still actively directing al Qaeda operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, as debkafile‘s terror experts have consistently reported.