Al-Qa'ida official killed by drone 'was British citizen'

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The Independent Online

An al-Qa'ida official killed by a US drone strike while working alongside insurgents in Somalia grew up in Britain, Islamist rebels have claimed.

Bilal al-Berjawi was killed on the outskirts of Mogadishu on Saturday when his car was hit by three missiles. Mr Berjawi was said to be responsible for recruitment, training and tactics for the Islamist group al-Shabab, which is fighting the weak UN-backed government.

"The martyr received what he wished for... brother Bilal al-Berjawi was exposed to bombing in an outskirt of Mogadishu from a drone that is believed to be American," the statement said. Al-Shabab's media wing claimed Mr Berjawi, who had Lebanese origins, grew up in Britain and had fought in Afghanistan before going to Somalia.

The rebels' claim that Mr Berjawi had British citizenship was denied by officials. The Foreign Office said it did not know if he had spent time in Britain. Observers say there are several hundred foreign fighters in Somalia, mostly Africans from nearby nations. However, British Somalis have also returned to fight on both sides of the conflict.

The drone attack followed the reported death a day earlier of another London-based man. The al-Shabab Twitter feed showed documents said to belong to the government official as proof that he had been killed by insurgents.