High-ranking al Qaeda leader killed in US drone strike

France24 - 05 June 2012

A U.S. drone strike has killed al-Qaida’s second-in-command, an American official said Tuesday, a significant blow to the terror network that has lost a string of top leaders since the death of Osama bin Laden last year.

Abu Yahya al-Libi was considered a media-savvy, charismatic leader who escaped from an American prison in Afghanistan and helped preside over the transformation of al-Qaida into a terror movement aimed at winning converts around the world.

Al-Libi was the latest in the dozen-plus senior commanders removed in the clandestine U.S. war against al-Qaida since Navy SEALs killed bin Laden.

The American official who confirmed al-Libi’s death said no one left in al-Qaida comes close to replacing the expertise the group has just lost. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.

Al-Libi was killed Monday morning. Pakistani officials had previously said that eight militants died in a drone strike in the Pakistani village of Khassu Khel in the North Waziristan tribal area.

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 bin Laden shortly after the terror leader was killed on May 2, 2011.

The State Department’s Rewards for Justice program had set a $1 million reward for information leading to al-Libi, who had filmed numerous propaganda videos urging attacks on U.S. targets. (...)

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