White House: Death of al-Qaida No. 2 is ´major blow´ to the organization (HAŽARETZ NEWS) By Reuters and Natasha Mozgovaya 06/06/12)
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The White House on Tuesday described the death of al-Qaida deputy
leader Abu Yahya al-Libi as a "major blow" to the militant group and
said there was no clear successor to take over his role.
Abu Yahya al-Libi, a veteran militant said to have been a leader of
the group´s operations, and who survived previous U.S. attacks, was
killed in a U.S. drone strike early Monday morning on a hideout in
North Waziristan in Pakistan´s tribal areas, U.S. officials announced
White House spokesman Jay Carney, citing U.S. intelligence sources,
said Libi was al-Qaida´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," Carney told a news briefing,
declining to say where or how the network´s deputy leader
died. "There is now no clear successor to take on the breadth of his
responsibilities," he said.
He went on to reaffirm the U.S. president´s commitment to dismantling
al-Qaida. "I can´t get into details about al-Libi´s death, the
circumstances or the location. You know, I would simply say that this
president is firmly committed to carrying out his policy objectives
in Afghanistan and in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, which is to
disrupt, dismantle and ultimately defeat al-Qaida," Carney said.
"He is committed to disrupting, dismantling and ultimately defeating
al-Qaida beyond that region too. That´s why we cooperate with
countries around the world in efforts to counter al-Qaida and other
But even as al-Qaida´s core group, now led by Ayman al-Zawahri, has
faced mounting losses, its affiliates elsewhere - particularly in
Yemen - have continued planning attacks on U.S. and other Western
And the drone strikes, which have escalated in number over the last
two weeks, have deeply angered Pakistan´s government, contributing to
unrelenting tensions between Washington and Islamabad.
Pakistan on Tuesday called in the U.S. charge d´affaires to its
foreign ministry to convey "serious concerns" over the drone strikes,
a ministry statement said.
For the United States, Libi had been one of al-Qaida´s most dangerous
Recently released letters written by Osama bin Laden and captured
during the U.S. raid in which he was killed last year show Libi to
have been one of a handful of al-Qaida officials relied upon by bin
Laden to argue al-Qaida´s case to a worldwide audience of militants,
in particular to the young.
Libi, a cleric whose real name was Mohamed Hassan Qaid, escaped from
U.S. custody in Afghanistan in 2005 and on at least one previous
occasion was prematurely reported to have been killed in a U.S. drone
A Pakistani Taliban leader, speaking to Reuters by telephone from an
undisclosed location, said Libi "had been living in the Mirali area
for quite a while. Most of the people from his group were also in
Mirali. When the first missile hit, they went to the house to check
"And immediately, another missile hit them at the spot.
Unfortunately, Sheikh sahib (Libi) was martyred. This is a big loss,
he was a great scholar. After doctor Sahib (Zawahri), he was the main
al-Qaida leader," the Pakistani Taliban leader said.
U.S. President Barack Obama has made strikes against anti-U.S.
militants, and particularly the killing of bin Laden, a major
component of his bid for re-election in November.
Sajjan Gohel, chief executive of the Asia-Pacific Foundation security
research consultancy, said Libi was one of the few remaining key
figures within al-Qaida´s core.
He "has also been at the center of al-Qaida´s plans to reconstitute
itself and try and remount a trans-national terror campaign. This is
one of the reasons he was viewed as a high value target," he told
Reuters by email.
Still, some analysts say the death of an al-Qaida leader does not
necessarily spell disaster for the group, arguing it is decentralized
and offers inspiration to militants and not just logistical support
"Even if he´s killed it doesn´t matter much to the organization as
long as Dr Zawahri remains alive," said Imtiaz Gul, author "The Most
Dangerous Place", a book about the lawless border area between
Pakistan and Afghanistan.
But Jarret Brachman, a terrorism expert who consults for U.S.
government agencies, said that in his view, in its recent
configuration, the coherence of al-Qaida´s core organization was
entirely dependent on two men: Zawahri and Libi, whose activities
Brachman says he had tracked closely since 2005.
Brachman said that his view is that Libi´s death is a "cataclysm" for
al-Qaida´s core group in terms of their ability to organize and
continue to spread their ideology. "There´s nobody left" in the
central organization if Zawahri at some point is killed or otherwise
taken off the battlefield, Brachman said.
He said that al-Qaida central still had a few operatives who were
capable of "blowing people up." But in terms of being able to present
a coherent ideology and theology to potential followers, Libi´s death
was a major blow to the organization.
"He was their theological pitbull," Brachman said. (© Copyright 2012
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