May 1 (Reuters) - A U.S. air strike killed an Islamist commander thought to be al Qaeda's man in Somalia, the insurgents and witnesses said on Thursday.
Aden Hashi Ayro was among six al Qaeda operatives or associates that Washington said were in the Horn of Africa nation:
FAZUL ABDULLAH MOHAMMED: On the FBI's most wanted list of terrorists, with a $5 million reward for his capture. U.S. indicted him for his alleged role in 1998 Kenya, Tanzania embassy bombings, which killed 240 people. Born in Comoros, believed 32-34 years old, expert in disguise, forgery and bomb-making. Carries numerous passports, speaks five languages. Also on U.N.'s al Qaeda and Taliban sanctions list.
ABU TALHA AL-SUDANI: Sudanese explosives expert, Al-Sudani is suspected by Western intelligence to lead east Africa's al Qaeda cell. Reported to have first visited Somalia in 1993 -- when U.S. troops were there on doomed peacekeeping mission and suffered the Black Hawk Down incident. May have been trained by Hezbollah in 1993. United States says he orchestrated the 2002 bombing of an Israeli-owned hotel in Kenya that killed 15.
SALEH ALI SALEH NABHAN: FBI wants the 27-year-old Kenyan for questioning in 2002 hotel bombing, and simultaneous but botched missile attack on Israeli airliner leaving Mombassa airport. Believed to have owned truck that bombed hotel and to have hidden in Somalia with the help of Al-Itihaad Al-Islaami, or alumni of the militant group operating under a different name.
SHEIKH HASSAN DAHIR AWEYS: In his late 60s or early 70s, is among 189 people or entities the United States "linked to terrorism" after Sept. 11, freezing their assets. Currently believed to be in Eritrea, he is on U.N. list of al Qaeda associates. Former Somali prison service colonel, involved with militant Somali Islamists. Most recently was leader of Somali Islamic Courts Council (SICC) ousted from power in December. Before that, he headed Al-Itihaad Al-Islaami's military wing until Ethiopia destroyed it. U.N. arms report says he has run training camps since 2005. Denies al Qaeda links.
ADAN HASHI AYRO: (Killed May 1, 2008) Head of Islamists' feared military wing, the Shabaab. Reportedly trained in Afghanistan. Linked to murders of four aid workers in Somaliland and more than a dozen Somalis with Western links. United States says has al Qaeda links via mentor Aweys. Reportedly gave al Qaeda members including al-Sudani housing, security and weapons in Mogadishu. U.S. military believes he was injured in air raid in January 2007 in south Somalia, aimed at killing al Qaeda suspects hiding among Islamists cornered by Somali-Ethiopian offensive.
SHEIKH HASSAN TURKI: Intelligence sources say he leads the Somali wing of al-Takfir wal-Hijra -- international Islamist group linked to extremist violence. Took senior SICC role after participation in Al-Itihaad. Intelligence agencies believe he has long run militant training camp in Ras Kamboni, at Somalia's southern tip near Kenya, where fleeing Islamists hid in January.