The United States says it has confirmed the death of Al Qaeda's second-in-command,
Abu Yahya al-Libi, describing it as a "major blow" to the militant group.White House spokesman Jay Carney, citing US intelligence sources, said Libi was Al Qaeda's "general manager" responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations in the tribal areas of Pakistan, and managing relations with affiliates.
"We have confirmation of his death," Mr Carney told a news briefing.
"There is now no clear successor to take on the breadth of his responsibilities."
He declined to say where or how Libi died, but yesterday Pakistani intelligence officials said he was killed by a drone strike early on Monday (local time).The drone-launched missile was reportedly targeted at a suspected militant hideout in Hesokhel, a village in North Waziristan, a tribal region in Pakistan along its border with Afghanistan. It came after days of reported US drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal areas.
American forces are using drones to prosecute the war in Afghanistan and against Al Qaeda and its operatives who use bases in Pakistan with increasing and deadly efficiency.The US and Pakistan are locked in difficult negotiations to reopen overland supply routes to NATO forces in Afghanistan, with no signs of a breakthrough.Islamabad blocked the routes last November to protest the death of 24 Pakistani soldiers by cross-border friendly fire from NATO aircraft.Pakistani officials say the CIA drone campaign has fuelled anti-US sentiment in Pakistan and is counterproductive because of collateral damage.But US officials say such strikes are highly effective against militants.
Key figureLibi was thought to be in his late 40s, a Libyan citizen, and second only to Ayman al Zawahiri in Al Qaeda's hierarchy.
He had even been described as someone with the ability to make Al Qaeda seem "cool" to a younger generation of jihadis.
It is believed he was a key figure in what remained of the core Al Qaeda network founded by Osama bin Laden, who was killed last year in a US commando raid on his hideout near a Pakistani military academy.In the wake of bin Laden's death, US officials said, Zawahri became the leader of Al Qaeda's core group, advised and assisted by a small coterie of veteran militants.The officials said Libi had recently emerged as Zawahri's principal deputy.
He had appeared in Al Qaeda propaganda videos and once escaped from an a US-operated prison in Afghanistan.
The US waited more than 24 hours before spreading word that it was confident Libi had been killed.
In addition to his escape, along with three other militants, from US custody in 2005, he at least once had been reported, prematurely, to have been killed in a US drone strike.The US considered him one of Al Qaeda's biggest threats to the West.
The Pentagon's Captain John Kirby welcomed news of his demise.
"This is a very dangerous individual and for him to no longer be walking the Earth would be a good thing for everybody," he said."I think the leadership development program of Al Qaeda has some health risks and hazards that we think are good."
The pressure on Al Qaeda in Pakistan may encourage the terrorist group to seek new havens elsewhere, and growing number of experts now pointing to an influx of militants into Mali.
In: World News, Other News, Afghanistan, Other Middle East
Tags: Al Qaeda, Pakistan, Afghanistan
Location: Afghanistan (load item map)
Marked as: approved
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