The White House on Tuesday confirmed the death of deputy al-Qaida leader Abu Yahya al-Libi in Pakistan, calling his death a “major blow” to the terrorist group.
White House spokesman Jay Carney would not confirm al-Libi’s death occurred as a result of a U.S. drone strike in North Waziristan, part of Pakistan’s northwestern tribal area, though Pakistani security sources said he died in a pre-dawn attack there that killed 15 insurgents, the last in a series of three U.S. drone attacks over the weekend.
“I can’t get into details about how his death was brought about, but I can tell you that he served as al-Qaida’s general manger, responsible for overseeing the group’s day-to-day operations in the tribal areas of Pakistan and he managed the outreach to al-Qaida’s regional affiliates,” Carney said.
“We believe al-Libi’s death is a major blow to core al-Qaida, removing the No. 2 leader for the second time in last than a year and further damaging the group’s morale and cohesion and bringing it closer to its ultimate demise than ever before.”
While al-Libi had previously been reported killed in 2009, an Internet post on a jihadist website on Tuesday suggested that he did not escape death this time.
A senior moderator on Al-Qaida’s top-ranked, password-protected Shamukh web forum early in the day urged other users to “pray for our brothers in Waziristan, as the situation does not please the believers.”
“One of the beloved brothers from the mujahideen in Waziristan corresponded privately with me and asked me to open a thread in which we can ask for prayers for our mujahideen brothers,” the author wrote. “The situation is bad there … and he told me some news and asked me not to reveal it to anyone now.”
The post was quickly removed from the forum a short time later.
Al-Libi, or “the Libyan” in Arabic, believed to be 39 years old, was one of the most influential propagandists in al-Qaida and one of its best known leaders. U.S. officials, speaking with NBC News on condition of anonymity, characterized him as irreplaceable in his expertise, ability and influence.
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