Msalam was indicted in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, in which hundreds of people, including Americans, were killed. As a result, the FBI has offered $5 million reward for information on Msalam.. A fugitive for 10 years, Msalam recently resurfaced in Pakistan. It is alleged that Msalam played a role in the September 2008 attack on the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad and was also involved in an attempt to assassinate former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Bhutto was killed in a later attack. A native of Kenya, Msalam is regarded as a key player who helped train recruits from East Africa and Afghanistan for jihad.
Shortly after the ABC story claimed Msalam and his long time al-Qaeda colleague Sheikh Ahmed Salim Swedan were killed, I called the FBI to confirm this. The FBI did not. Instead, in a written statement, FBI Public Affairs’ Susan T. McKee said, “The FBI is not commenting on Fahid Mslalam’s [sic] status at this time.”
Last week, the Wall Street Journal printed a list of top-priority targets killed since the summer by drones. While Sheikh Swedan was listed as dead, Msalam was mysteriously absent from the list. I requested from Wright the Pentagon’s list of al-Qaeda operatives killed in Pakistan since the summer of 2008, the same list the Wall Street Journal must have used.
“We don’t have a list,” said Wright.
“Where do reporters get their information about who’s been killed?” I asked.
“The Pentagon is a big place. There are leaks,” said Wright. No laughter this time.
“Wouldn’t it be better to produce an accurate list? I asked. Wright replied, “To be able to talk about that would be to hit the subject directly, which I am not authorized to do.”
Hitting the subject directly. Now, isn’t that the real truth about drones? Why then, should who has been hit remain a mystery?