US official: Al-Qaida No. 2 killed by US drone

The death of Abu Yahya al-Libi is a significant blow to the terror network, which has lost a string of top leaders at the hands of the American drone program.

FILE - This March 25, 2007, file image, made from video posted on a website frequented by Islamist militants and provided via the IntelCenter, shows al-Qaida militant Abu Yahia al-Libi. A CIA drone strike Monday, June 4, 2012, targeted al-Qaida's second in command, Abu Yahia al-Libi, in Pakistan, but it was unclear whether he was among those hit, U.S. officials said. U.S. officials say fewer than five people were hit, although Pakistani officials say more than a dozen people were killed in two days of strikes in Pakistan. (AP Photo/IntelCenter, File) THE ASSOCIATED PRESS HAS NO WAY OF INDEPENDENTLY VERIFYING THE CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS VIDEO

WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.S. official says a drone strike in Pakistan's northwest tribal region has killed al-Qaida's second-in-command.

The death of Abu Yahya al-Libi is a significant blow to the terror network, which has lost a string of top leaders at the hands of the American drone program.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, says that no one left in al-Qaida comes close to replacing the expertise al-Qaida has just lost.

Al-Libi would be the latest in the dozen-plus senior commanders removed in the clandestine U.S. war against al-Qaida since Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden just over a year ago. Al-Libi, a hero in militant circles for his 2005 escape from an American military prison in Afghanistan, was elevated to al-Qaida's No. 2 spot when Ayman al-Zawahri rose to replace the slain bin Laden.

—June 4, 2012: Al-Qaida second in command Abu Yahya al-Libi is killed in a drone strike in the Pakistani village of Khassu Khel in the North Waziristan tribal area, according to a U.S. official. Al-Libi was considered a charismatic, media-savvy leader who helped preside over the transformation of al-Qaida into a terror movement aimed at winning converts around the world.

—Feb. 9, 2012: Al-Qaida commander Badr Mansoor is killed in a drone strike in Miran Shah, the main town in Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal area. He was believed to be behind many of the suicide attacks that killed scores of Pakistani civilians in recent years. Mansoor was from Pakistan's largest province, Punjab, and moved to North Waziristan in 2008, where he led a faction of more than 200 fighters.

—Sept. 30, 2011: Anwar al-Awlaki, a key member of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, is killed in a drone strike in the mountains of Yemen. The 40-year-old American-Yemeni cleric emerged as an enormously influential preacher among militants living in the West, with his English-language Internet sermons calling for jihad, or holy war, against the United States. He was in contact with the accused perpetrators of the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood that killed 13 people, the 2010 car bomb attempt in New York's Times Square and the Christmas 2009 attempt to blow up an airliner heading to Detroit.

—Sept. 11, 2011: Al-Qaida's chief of operations in Pakistan, Abu Hafs al-Shahri, is killed in a drone strike in Pakistan's tribal region. Al-Shahri worked closely with the Pakistani Taliban to carry out attacks inside Pakistan.

—Aug. 22, 2011: Al-Qaida's second in command, Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, is killed in a drone strike in Machi Khel village in Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal area. A Libyan national, al-Rahman never had the worldwide name recognition of Osama bin Laden or bin Laden's successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri, but al-Rahman was regarded as an instrumental figure in the terrorist organization, trusted by bin Laden to oversee al-Qaida's daily operations.

—June 3, 2011: Al-Qaida's military operations chief in Pakistan, Ilyas Kashmiri, is believed to have been killed in a drone strike close to the town of Wana in Pakistan's South Waziristan tribal area. He was one of five most-wanted militant leaders in the country, accused of a string of bloody attacks in Pakistan and India as well as aiding plots in the West.

Associated Press
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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