Mohammed Azmir Khan was a British citizen killed in a drone strike between August and November 2011. His brother, Abdul Jabbar, was reportedly killed in a drone strike the previous year.
Khan was born in Sheffield and his family later moved to Ilford, east London. He was the middle of three brothers, all of whom worked in the London offices of extremist group al Mujahiroun, according to an al Qaeda ‘supergrass’, Mohammed Junaid Babar. Babar gave testimony on a number of alleged British terrorists in the 2004 Operation Crevice trials, in which five British men were jailed for planning bombings of targets in Britain, including the Ministry of Sound nightclub in London and Bluewater shopping centre.
According to a CNN report, Babar told the court that all three brothers travelled to fight in Afghanistan around the time of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Khan’s older brother Mohammed Tunveer Ahmed (also known as Tanveer Ali and Michael Marteen) and his younger brother Abdul Jabbar (also known as Mohammed Jabar Ahmed) went on to Lahore, where they worked in the al Mujahiroun offices, and Kashmir.
It is not clear where Khan spent the next few years, but he and his brothers, together with other associates, became individuals of considerable interest to the British government.
On August 2 2007, the British Treasury issued orders freezing the assets of all three brothers ‘because the Treasury had reasonable grounds for suspecting’ that they could, or may have ‘facilitated the commission of acts of terrorism’, court documents later explained.
A court judgment shows the Treasury believed ‘[Ahmed] and [Khan] were involved, with others, in funding Al Qa’ida contacts in the tribal areas of Pakistan’. They had two weeks to submit full details of all their financial assets, including their wives’ earnings and assets.
The brothers appear to have been in the UK at the time, and appealed the freezing of their assets. A Court of Appeal judgment notes: ‘From 2 August their bank accounts have been frozen and they have not been permitted access to their assets, although they have been granted licences to be paid social security benefits. In the case of [Mohammed Tunveer Ahmed and Khan] such benefits are to be paid only to their wives, who are permitted only to provide food and accommodation and no more than £10 a week in cash.’
In January 2010 the Supreme Court overturned the asset freeze, ruling that the government had overreached its powers in infringing on the men’s fundamental rights using an executive power that hadn’t been approved by Parliament.
At the time of the Supreme Court ruling, neither Abdul Jabbar nor Khan were still living with their families; ‘their current whereabouts are unknown’, the Supreme Court judgment notes. Their solicitors, Birnberg Peirce, blamed their disappearance on the ‘damaging effects upon them and their families of the regimes to which they were subjected by the Treasury’, the judgment adds. Birnberg Peirce had not had contact with them for ‘months’.
Several reports, including by the BBC and Telegraph, suggest that Khan’s assets were frozen again in February 2010.
Abdul Jabbar was killed in a drone strike in either September or October 2010, after allegedly becoming involved in an al Qaeda plot to carry out ‘Mumbai-style’ attacks in European cities, CNN reported.
Khan reportedly died the following year. His death was made public in mid-November 2011 when his family in the UK confirmed the fact, although this appears to have been some weeks after his death. His death was announced alongside that of a fellow British citizen, Ibrahim Adam.
Most reports stated that Khan and Adam died in separate drone strikes. But a Channel 4 news report claimed they had died alongside two other British citizens, claiming:
‘The four arrived in Pakistan two years ago and had initially associated with al-Qaeda. Later they developed close contacts with the Afghan insurgent group and started fighting against US-led foreign forces in Afghanistan along with Afghan Taliban. They spent some time in Dattakhel and later came to Miramshah, the headquarters of the north Waziristan tribal region.’
After the death, a friend of Azmir’s family told reporters: ‘They have taken it very badly – this is the second son who has been killed in a drone strike.’