U.S. drone strike reportedly killed a dozen terrorists in Pakistan’s northwestern region on Monday. U.S. and Pakistani intelligence officials confirmed that the target was al-Qaeeda’s top strategist and second-in-command Abu Yahya al-Libi. The prominent and charismatic al-Qaeeda leader has likely been killed in the strike, Pakistani officials said.
“The degradation to core al Qaeda during the past several years has depleted the ranks to such an extent that there is now no clear successor to take on the breadth of his responsibilities, putting additional pressure on (Ayman al-) Zawahiri to try to manage the group in an effective way,” a senior US official said, declining to confirm whether Libi was dead or alive, according to a report of Pakistan’s DAWN newspaper.
However, Abu Yahya al-Lib’s providence remained uncertain late Monday, among a whirl of gossips inside Pakistan that the long-term assistant to Osama Bin Laden had been fatally injured or maybe killed in the drone attack. The terrorist commander’s death, if established, would symbolize one of the major achievements in the fight against al-Qaeda from the time whenwas killed by Navy SEALs in Pakistan more than a year ago.
According to Pakistani intelligence officials, they had first intercepted telephone communication about Libi, a Libyan extremist Islamist who holds a degree in chemistry and has escaped earlier drone strikes. Libi, an al-Qaeeda who has expertise on digital and social media, became prominent in the al-Qaeeda circles after he escaped from a US-managed prison in Afghanistan in 2005.
"We intercepted some conversations between militants. They were talking about the death of a 'sheikh'," one of the Pakistani intelligence officials said, referring to the title given to senior religious leaders, according to the Times of India report. "They did not name this person but we have checked with our sources in the area and believe they are referring to al-Libi."
According to the Washington Post, a U.S intelligence official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told them that Libi had been acting as “general manager” for al-Qaeda’s key division, administering the fanatic group’s daily activities in Pakistan as well as its associations to partners around the world.