CIA Drone Strike Kills Senior Al Qaeda Planner

A US official confirms that a drone strike in Pakistan's tribal areas last week killed Aslam Awan, a Pakistani militant who was a senior operations planner for al Qaeda.

The official described Awan as "a senior al-Qaeda external operations planner who was working on attacks against the West."

Little known outside of intelligence circles, Awan was killed in a January 10 drone strike in North Waziristan. It was the first such strike in almost two months.

There had been no CIA drone strikes since a November 25 incident where NATO airstrikes mistakenly killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.   That incident led to a cooling in US-Pakistani relations.

There are a very few prominent al Qaeda leaders still believed to be operating in Pakistan, including Ayman al Zawahiri who assumed the leadership of al Qaeda following the death of Osama bin Laden last year.

The official added that Awan's death, "reduces al Qaeda's thinning bench of another operative devoted to plotting the death of innocent civilians."

There was another drone attack in North Waziristan last week that killed four militants riding in a pick-up truck.

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