Notorious Egyptian scientist Midhat Mursi al-Sayid Umar, who had a $5 million American bounty on his head, was believed to have been in the village near the Afghanistan border when the airstrike hit, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports.
Also known as Abu Khabab al-Masri, he specialized in chemical and biological weapons and once conducted nerve gas tests on tethered dogs.
The three Pakistani security officials, all speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to media, said the al Qaeda figures were believed to have been in Damadola village near the Afghan border at the time of Friday's attack but their bodies have not been recovered. The attack also killed 18 civilians.
The officials said the operatives included Umar, 52, who the U.S. Justice Department calls an explosives and poisons expert. The Egyptian also has distributed training manuals with recipes for chemical and biological weapons and trained hundreds of fighters at a terrorist camp near the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad before the ouster of the hardline Taliban regime in late 2001.
Umar is suspected of training the suicide bombers who killed 17 U.S. sailors in the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000, according to Mohamed Salah, a Cairo expert on Islamic extremists.
The Justice Department's Web site says the exact whereabouts of Umar, are unknown but that he may be living in Pakistan. It offers $5 million for information leading to his arrest.
According to the Pakistani officials, the other militants possibly killed included Abu Obaidah al-Masri, the al Qaeda chief responsible for attacks on U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan, across the border from the strike site; and Abdul Rehman al-Maghribi, a Moroccan and relative of Ayman al-Zawahri, possibly his son-in-law.
One of the officials said al-Maghribi was involved in public relations for al Qaeda and helped distribute statements, CDs and videos publicizing the group. In particular, al-Maghribi had contacts with Arab journalists and kept them abreast of al Qaeda news, he said.
Some of the officials also said a fourth man, Khalid Habib, the al Qaeda operations chief along the Afghan-Pakistan border, was believed to be dead. The officials said Habib had planned assassination attacks on Pakistan's President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, and is associated with Abu Farraj al-Libbi, a top al Qaeda figure arrested in northwestern Pakistan in May.
Pentagon officials said they had no information on the reported identities of the dead, and CIA spokesman Tom Crispell said the agency could not comment.