Abu Ubaidah al-Banshiri

Abu Ubaidah al-Banshiri

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Abu Ubaidah al-Banshiri was the nom de guerre of Ali Amin al-Rashidi (علي أمين الرشيدي), one of the "most capable and popular leaders" of al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda is a global broad-based militant Islamist terrorist organization founded by Osama bin Laden sometime between August 1988 and late 1989. It operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless army and a radical Sunni Muslim movement calling for global Jihad...

.

When he drowned in a ferry accident on Lake Victoria
Lake Victoria
Lake Victoria is one of the African Great Lakes. The lake was named for Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, by John Hanning Speke, the first European to discover this lake....

 in 1996, he was the head of al-Qaeda's African presence and second in command of the whole organization, below Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden was the founder of the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda, the jihadist organization responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets...

.

History



Al-Banshiri was born in May 1950 in Cairo
Cairo
Cairo , is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa, and the 16th largest metropolitan area in the world. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life...

, and served as a policeman in Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 before joining the anti-Soviet effort in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

, fighting alongside Ahmed Shah Massoud
Ahmed Shah Massoud
Ahmad Shah Massoud was a Kabul University engineering student turned military leader who played a leading role in driving the Soviet army out of Afghanistan, earning him the name Lion of Panjshir. His followers call him Āmir Sāhib-e Shahīd...

.

His brother had participated in the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat. Ayman al-Zawahiri
Ayman al-Zawahiri
Ayman Mohammed Rabie al-Zawahiri is an Egyptian physician, Islamic theologian and current leader of al-Qaeda. He was previously the second and last "emir" of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, having succeeded Abbud al-Zumar in the latter role when Egyptian authorities sentenced al-Zumar to life...

, head of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, introduced al-Banshiri to Osama Bin Laden
Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden was the founder of the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda, the jihadist organization responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets...

, who was so favorably impressed that he made al-Banshiri military commander of the Afghan Arabs
Afghan Arabs
Afghan Arabs were Arab and other Muslim Islamist mujahideen who came to Afghanistan during and following the Soviet-Afghan War to help fellow Muslims fight Soviets and pro-Soviet Afghans....

. Al-Bashiri's second in command, was Mohammed Atef
Mohammed Atef
Mohammed Atef was the alleged military chief of al-Qaida, although his role in the organization was not well known by intelligence agencies for years...

. He was shot in the leg during the 1987 Battle of Jaji
Battle of Jaji
The Battle of Jaji occurred in May 1987, during the first stage of withdrawal of Soviet forces from their invasion of Afghanistan. Remaining Soviet troops supported the Soviet-backed government's operations in Paktia Province against the Mujahideen, hoping to relieve a besieged garrison at Ali...

.

While still in Afghanistan, in August 1988, he attended the founding meeting of al-Qaeda, along with bin Laden, Mamdouh Mahmud Salim
Mamdouh Mahmud Salim
Mamdouh Mahmud Salim is an alleged co-founder of the Islamist terrorist network al-Qaeda. He was arrested on 16 September 1998 near the German town Munich...

, and others.

While in Kenya and Tanzania he was known by the aliases Adel Habib, Karim, and Jalal. He married a Kenyan woman, and set up a business in Nairobi
Nairobi
Nairobi is the capital and largest city of Kenya. The city and its surrounding area also forms the Nairobi County. The name "Nairobi" comes from the Maasai phrase Enkare Nyirobi, which translates to "the place of cool waters". However, it is popularly known as the "Green City in the Sun" and is...

 importing automobiles from the United Arab Emirates
United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates, abbreviated as the UAE, or shortened to "the Emirates", is a state situated in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia on the Persian Gulf, bordering Oman, and Saudi Arabia, and sharing sea borders with Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and Iran.The UAE is a...

.

At some point al-Banshiri acquired either Dutch
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 citizenship or forged Dutch papers. Prior to 1996, al-Bashiri, Mohammed Atef
Mohammed Atef
Mohammed Atef was the alleged military chief of al-Qaida, although his role in the organization was not well known by intelligence agencies for years...

 and Yaseen al-Iraqi aided Enaam Arnaout
Enaam Arnaout
Enaam M. Arnaout is a Syrian-American who pleaded guilty to using charitable donations to support fighters in Bosnia without apprising the donors of this, during his tenure as a director of the charity Benevolence International Foundation . -Life:Arnaout was raised in Hamat, Syria...

 in purchasing AK-47
AK-47
The AK-47 is a selective-fire, gas-operated 7.62×39mm assault rifle, first developed in the Soviet Union by Mikhail Kalashnikov. It is officially known as Avtomat Kalashnikova . It is also known as a Kalashnikov, an "AK", or in Russian slang, Kalash.Design work on the AK-47 began in the last year...

s and mortar rounds from a Pashtun tribesman named Hajjji Ayoub, and they were subsequently delivered in large trucks to the Jawr and Jihad Wahl training camp
Jihad Wahl training camp
The Jihad Wahl training camp was an alleged al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan.Prior to 1996, Abu Ubaidah al-Banshiri, Mohammed Atef and Yaseen al-Iraqi aided Enaam Arnaout in purchasing AK-47s and mortar rounds from a Pashtun tribesman named Hajjji Ayoub, and they were subsequently delivered in...

s.

Death


When the news broke that the ferry had sunk in Lake Victoria, al-Qaeda sent Fazul Abdullah Mohammed
Fazul Abdullah Mohammed
Fazul Abdullah Mohammed was a member of al-Qaeda, and the leader of its presence in East Africa as of November 2009. Mohammed was born in Moroni, Comoros Islands and had Kenyan as well as Comorian citizenship...

 and Wadih el-Hage
Wadih el-Hage
Wadih el-Hage is a former al-Qaeda member who is serving life imprisonment in the United States for his part in the 1998 United States embassy bombings. He was indicted and arrested in 1998, and convicted on all counts and sentenced to life without parole in 2001...

 to the scene, to verify that al-Banshiri was dead, and had not defected or been captured.

Al-Banshiri was succeeded as al-Qaeda's "military" commander by another Egyptian ex-policeman, Mohammed Atef
Mohammed Atef
Mohammed Atef was the alleged military chief of al-Qaida, although his role in the organization was not well known by intelligence agencies for years...

, who had been considered his inseparable friend. Al-Banshiri's senior role in East Africa was taken over, at least in part, by Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah
Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah
Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah is an Egyptian national wanted by the United States for his part in the 1998 American embassy bombings in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and especially Nairobi, Kenya...

.

A poem entitled "Tears in the Eyes of Time" was written about al-Banshiri, commemorating him among the greatest of the "fallen mujahideen", by Maloy oheb al-Qandahari. al-Zawahiri recited the poem in his January 2006 internet broadcast.