Al-Qaeda number two death 'a big blow'

2012-06-06 12:10

Washington - The US said on Tuesday that Al-Qaeda number two Abu Yahya al-Libi was dead, after a drone strike dealt the most weighty blow to the terror group since the killing of Osama bin Laden.

The demise of Libi, a charismatic figure beloved by rank-and-file radicals with a flair for media and managerial authority over terror affiliates, meant another victory in President Barack Obama's ruthless bid to crush Al-Qaeda.

"Our government has been able to confirm Al-Libi's death," said White House spokesperson Jay Carney, ending a prolonged US tussle with a man who once escaped from a US jail in Afghanistan, and had defied previous attempts to kill him.

Officials refused to confirm the circumstances of Libi's death, but Pakistani authorities previously spoke of a pre-dawn CIA drone strike on Monday on a compound in North Waziristan, near the Afghan border.

"It is significant," another US official said, saying Libi headed Al-Qaeda operations in Pakistan and outreach to affiliates such as Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has attacked US targets.

Officials were unable to say whether there were any other casualties in the attack on Libi, after earlier reports that 15 people had died in the drone strike.

News of the killing of Libi followed reports detailing the scope of the US campaign against global terrorism, including revelations that President Barack Obama personally presides over a "kill list" of top suspects.

Libi's death will also bolster Obama's national security credentials as he seeks to repel claims of weakness abroad leveled by his Republican opponent in November's election, Mitt Romney.

Republicans have complained that the White House is selectively leaking intelligence data to bolster Obama's reputation as a steely commander in chief.

The Libi killing may again worsen tenuous US ties with nominal anti-terror ally Pakistan, severely harmed by drone strikes, a US raid that killed bin Laden last year and Islamabad's refusal to reopen Nato supply lines into Afghanistan.

A trusted lieutenant of bin Laden, Libi appeared in countless Al-Qaeda videos and was considered the chief architect of its global propaganda machine.

The US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Monday that Libi had served as the group's "general manager" and had overseen day-to-day operations in Pakistani tribal areas.

The official described the killing of Libi as a "major blow" to Al-Qaeda's core that would put further pressure on the group's leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Analysts said that Libi had played a talismanic role in Al-Qaeda, and his loss could be a blow from which the movement may not recover.

"If Zawahiri is put down soon, Al-Qaeda's senior leadership will be broken and the torch will have to pass to AQAP," said terrorism expert Jarret Brachman, of North Dakota State University.

Libi's death followed the US claim that Atiyah abd al-Rahman, then described in Washington as Al-Qaeda's number two, was killed in a US missile strike in North Waziristan on August 22 last year.

"It is a job that is hard to fill and there may not be, given the duration of late that people have held that job ... a lot of candidates hoping to fill it," Carney said.

Pakistani officials had originally said it was unclear whether Libi had been present at a compound in the village of Hesokhel, east of Miranshah, the capital of North Waziristan, that was targeted in the drone strike.

Libi had evaded US clutches before: he escaped from a high security US prison at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan in 2005.

There had been unconfirmed reports that Libi was wounded in a US drone strike that killed nine militants on May 28. A report that he was killed in a December 2009 drone strike in South Waziristan also proved false.

Obama has presided over a relentless attempt to crush Al-Qaeda, including in Pakistan and Yemen, since taking office in 2009.

Last month, during a visit to Afghanistan, he said his goal of defeating the group behind the September 11 attacks in 2001 was "now within our reach".

  • Habib - 2012-06-06 12:46

    No Matter how many they kill, Another will step into his shoes.

      Tax - 2012-06-06 14:33

      I think his shoes got blown to pieces along with him...

  • pmalungana - 2012-06-06 13:10

    Libi's death may be a blow to the Al Qaeda, but it may damage Obama's reputation in the East, and expose America to more terror attacks. Americans need to deal with the root causes of these terrorist attacks if they are intent to win the war against terror.

      jaba.kov - 2012-06-06 14:51

      The root cause is Islamic fundamentalism - nothing else. By what you are saying the Americans should just throw in the towel and become Muslim to avoid another terrorist attack. Let me just remind you that Islamic Fundamentalists kill more Muslims that any other denomination - so your theory is flawed.

  • stefan.vanderspuy - 2012-06-06 13:26

    Al-Qaeda can run but they cannot hide. Who cares what your image is with fundamentalist Islamic and any other groups. Just take them out, like the Americans and Israeli's are doing. Iran will never have a nuclear weapon; the Mossad will have eliminated all their nuclear physicists before that can happen.

      Bob - 2012-06-06 15:37

      I see you a very popular little man ismail, I see you got 45 thumbs down and I'm guessing stefan would love you to come out with that comment to his face.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-06-06 20:07

      Bob, The Editor deleted Ismail's comment, not only bacause it was outrageous, but probably more so , for his pornographic FB pages !!

  • Sonja - 2012-06-06 13:44

    I hope the "blow" was so big, there was nothing left of him (it)

  • zaakiro - 2012-06-06 14:27

    The fact that the Afghanistan still experiences so many daily attacks, the fact that after 11 years they have managed to kill Bin Laden & now the so called number 2, has proven that the US lost this fight a long long time ago. Until today it cannot be confirmed whether they actually killed Bin Laden since his body was supposedly thrown into the sea. Where is the body of the "Number2" Abu Yahya al-Libi? Obama an his puppeteers need to really up the rating before the next election and with so much criticism regarding the massive death, rise in unemployment, increase in crime, recession and so much more they White House in my opinion is pulling feathers out of a hat. Basically they trying to give reason for their continued involvement in wars across the world. Agree or disagree with me, fact is that the money they spending invading these lands could have been spent so much more productively especially in times where financially they are almost broke. Americans on the ground are suffering because suddenly there is this huge shift in how they use to live in terms of standards, and how they now have to adapt. A big number of Americans are in debt because of high interest rate, so many retrenchments and just the increase in living. My point is, while there is a possibility they have captured or rather killed this man, it's also possible they didn't. Not everyone believes in conspiracies but they out there in some capacity or the other.

      gerhard.kress.3 - 2012-06-06 14:58

      I am appalled at your ignorance.

      jaba.kov - 2012-06-06 15:19

      and the world is flat...

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-06-06 15:35

      Almost everything you have written is nonsense.

      Dylan Dario Sciarappa - 2012-06-06 19:15

      Don't worry zakiro don't listen to these people they are the ignorant ones. U r 100% correct

  • Ken - 2012-06-06 22:18

    They tell me he had blue blew through the roof and one blew through the wall!

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