Al-Qaeda leader Abu Yahya al-Libi killed in US drone strike (TELEGRAPH UK) By Rob Crilly, and Nazar Ul Islam in Islamabad 06/06/12)
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The US has confirmed that al-Qaeda’s second-in-command was killed in
a drone strike in Pakistan.
US officials described the death of Abu Yahya al-Libi as a "major
blow" to the terrorist organisation.
The official told AFP that Washington had a "very high degree of
confidence" that Libi was dead, and argued that his demise would
severely hamper the capacity of core al-Qaeda leaders to liaise with
Libi was killed when missiles destroyed his vehicle and a militant
compound in North Waziristan, leaving 15 dead.
The death of Libi, a close aid to Osama bin Laden’s successor Ayman
al-Zawahiri, is a major blow to what is left of al-Qaeda’s core
leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
He is among more than 12 senior al-Qaeda leaders assassinated since
bin Laden was tracked down and killed by US Navy Seals in May last
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. Pakistani intelligence
officials said they had evidence that Libi was at the scene at the
time of the strike.
A Western security analyst on condition of anonymity said: “The high
intensity of strikes suggest there is some sort of good intelligence
that a high value-target is in the area.”
Pakistan condemned the drone strike, summoning the US charge
d’affaires to express it’s “serious concerns” over the tactic. The
attack came 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 40s, was thought
dead in 2009 only to re-emerge months later, churning out propaganda
He carries a $1m US bounty on his head and was captured in 2002 when
Nato forces overran Afghanistan. However, he was part of an al-Qaeda
breakout three years later increasing his cachet in militant circles.
Some terror experts believe he took over as deputy leader last year,
following the death of Atiyah abd al-Rahman also in a drone strike in
Ben Venzke, an analyst at the US-based IntelCenter, said that Libi’s
death would be a severe blow to international jihadi groups.
“The loss of Abu Yahya al-Libi would be felt throughout the jihadi
community as he has been one of the most visible jihadi figures from
any of the groups around the world, with prolific video releases and
writings,” he said.
Drone strikes are highly controversial in Pakistan, where many
believe they serve as a recruiting sergeant for al-Qaeda.
The latest blitz prompted Pakistan’s foreign ministry to summon the
American charge d’affaires to receive a formal protest about the
strikes on Tuesday.
At the same time, 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 attack slowed during the past year as relations between
Washington and Islamabad soured.
However, they have intensified in ferocity during the past fortnight
after the US and Pakistan failed to reach an agreement over Nato
supply lines during talks in Chicago.
The Pakistani parliament has asked for an end to the strikes as part
of a deal to allow Nato supplies through its territory to
Afghanistan. (© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2012.
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