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Al-Qaeda’s number two killed in drone strike

Posted by :) on June 7, 2012


Source : By Rob Crilly | Place: Kandahar | Agency: The Daily Telegraph
  • A still image from September 9, 2007 video footage shows Abu Yahya al Libi, a Libyan-born top al Qaeda leader, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan earlier this week, a U.S. official said on June 5, 2012. U.S. officials said that Abu Yahya had recently been considered by U.S. counter-terrorism experts as the No. 2 in the core al Qaeda group led by Ayman al Zawahiri. Zawahiri has headed the group since al Qaeda's founder, Osama bin Laden, was killed last year in a U.S. commando raid on his hideout in Pakistan. REUTERS/IntelCenter/Handout

    A still image from September 9, …

  • A still image from June 6, 2007 video footage shows Abu Yahya al Libi, a Libyan-born top al Qaeda leader, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan earlier this week, a U.S. official said on June 5, 2012. U.S. officials said that Abu Yahya had recently been considered by U.S. counter-terrorism experts as the No. 2 in the core al Qaeda group led by Ayman al Zawahiri. Zawahiri has headed the group since al Qaeda's founder, Osama bin Laden, was killed last year in a U.S. commando raid on his hideout in Pakistan. REUTERS/IntelCenter/Handout

    A still image from June 6, 2007 …

America hailed a ‘major blow’ to al-Qaeda’s leadership last night (Tuesday) after announcing that the terrorist group’s second-in-command had been killed in a drone strike in Pakistan.

The White House confirmed that Abu Yahya al-Libi had died when missiles destroyed his vehicle and a militant compound in North Waziristan on Monday, while a Taliban leader described the news as a “big loss”
Libi, a close aide to Osama bin Laden’s successor Ayman al-Zawahiri, was considered by US experts as the number two in the core al-Qaeda group.

One official said he “was among al-Qaeda’s most experienced and versatile leaders” and “played a critical role in the group’s planning against the West”.

He described the killing of Libi as the most important blow against al-Qaeda since US special forces troops swooped into Pakistan last year and killed the al-Qaeda leader bin Laden. More than 12 senior leaders in the terrorist group have been killed in the past year.

Libi was a Libyan citizen with a $1?million price on his head. A trusted lieutenant of bin Laden, he appeared in countless al-Qaeda videos and was considered the chief architect of its global propaganda machine.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Libi had served as the group’s “general manager” and had overseen day-to-day operations in Pakistani tribal areas. Libi was also in charge of contacts with al-Qaeda affiliates elsewhere, including al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), a Yemen-based offshoot which has launched direct attacks against US targets, the official said.

Three separate drone strikes were launched from Saturday to Monday, killing at least 30 people, according to local sources. The third barrage comprised two missiles, which slammed into a compound and a vehicle in the village of Hesokhel, near Miranshah, the capital of North Waziristan, before dawn.

Pakistan condemned the drone strike, summoning the US charge d’affaires to express its “serious concerns” over the tactic. The attack was launched at a time of increased tensions between Washington and Islamabad, following the conviction two weeks ago of a doctor who helped to track down bin Laden.

Libi, a Libyan citizen believed to be in his late forties, was thought to have died in 2009 only to re-emerge months later, churning out propaganda messages.

He was captured in 2002 when Nato forces overran Afghanistan. He escaped in an al-Qaeda breakout three years later, increasing his cachet in militant circles.

Ben Venzke, an analyst at the US-based IntelCenter, said Libi’s death would be felt throughout the jihadi community as he has been one of the most visible jihadi figures from any of the groups..

Drone strikes are highly controversial in Pakistan, where many believe they serve as a recruiting agent for al-Qaeda.

A letter retrieved from Osama bin Laden’s Pakistani hideout shows how effective they have been in hurting al-Qaeda. In it, the former leader warned his “brothers” in North Waziristan to travel only under cloud cover in order to thwart the drones.

The rate of attacks has slowed in the past year as relations between Washington and Islamabad soured. However, they have intensified in ferocity in the past fortnight after the US and Pakistan failed to reach an agreement over Nato supply lines during talks in Chicago

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