Circles associated with al Qaeda released the names of additional appointees Wednesday, May 18 after Egyptian Saif al Adal (Sword of Justice) was named interim operations chief by the organization's Shura council at its meeting on May 10. debkafile's counter-terror sources say that naming Osama bin Laden's most experienced terrorist operations mastermind underlined al Qaeda's current focus on avenging his death at American hands in Pakistan on May 2.
Other appointees are: Adnan al-Khairi al-Masry-Head of General Command; Muhammed Nasser Al-Wahshi-Head in Africa; Muhammed Adam Khan al-Afghani-Head in Afghanistan/Pakistan; and Fahd al-Iraqi-responsible for AfPak border. Ayman Zawahiri will reportedly replace Osama bin Laden with Saif al-Adal as his military chief.
According to our sources, Saif al-Adal will head the three-man team assigned with the revenge attack. Its other members are Mohammad Ilyas Kashmiri and Adnan G. El Shukrijumah.
Kashmiri is the commander of Brigade 313 which operates in Kashmir and India; Shukrijumah is al Qaeda's dirty bomb expert.
debkafile's sources describe al Adal as lacking Osama bin Laden's breadth for designing mega-operations on the scale of the 9/11 attacks in the United States. His forte is closely synchronized serial attacks on multiple targets. In his fifties today, he has won the reputation in the West and Arab world of an astute and accomplished master-terrorist and al Qaeda's senior operations officer, although the title was never formally conferred on him. Al Adal is thought to have taken a hand in one way or another in almost every major al Qaeda action including the 2001 attacks in America.
When the United States invaded Afghanistan shortly after those attacks, al Adal fled to Iran where he was held under semi-house arrest for nine years under the protection of the al Qods Brigades, the intelligence and terrorist arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Tehran which held a number of high-profile al Qaeda operatives allowed them to stay in regular touch with bin Laden.
In 2003-2004, Tehran targeted Saudi Arabia for a wave of terror using the Qaeda operatives it was holding for these cross-border missions. Operations whiz Al-Adal was given overall command of this offensive.
Then, in September 2010, when the US stepped up sanctions against Tehran, Iranian agents escorted him across the border into Northern Waziristan, Pakistan, to orchestrate operations against Americans in conjunction with the Taliban. From there, he stayed in communication with Kashmiri and Shukrijumah.
One of his tactical advantages over other contenders for the top al Qaeda job is his close ties with Iranian's intelligence and terrorist networks across the world, a major asset for selecting American targets for revenge.