Wanted al-Qaeda figure Abu Laith al-Libi was killed in Pakistan by a CIA air-strike, anonymous officials told CNN. Al-Libi was said to have been behind several attacks on US forces in Afghanistan, including the February 2007 bombing at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan during a visit by Vice President Dick Cheney. He was on a “most wanted” list of 12 accused terrorists issued in October by the Combined Joint Task Force-82. The officials said al-Libi was killed by a missile fired from an airplane. “May God have mercy on Sheikh Abu Laith al-Libi and accept him with his brothers, with the martyrs,” said a eulogy posted on a leading Islamist site, Al-Ekhlaas.
Al-Libi is former leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which later merged with al-Qaeda. Officials described al-Libi as part of al Qaeda’s inner circle, who helped fill the void created by the capture or death of more senior leaders after 9-11. CJTF-82 denied any knowledge of his death. (CNN, Jan. 31)
Al-Qaeda’s second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, whi remains at large with a $25 million US bounty on his head, spoke to fans on the Internet earlier this month. More than 2,500 questions were fielded via three Islamist websites, including:
“Do you meet Sheikh Osama Bin Laden and how is his health?”
“How do I join al-Qaeda?”
“Why hasn’t there been another attack on America?”
“When will we see the men of Qaedat al-Jihad organization—may Allah preserve them and keep them in his care—doing Jihad in Palestine? …because frankly, the situation here has become extremely bad for us.”
NOTE: The New York Times makes clear that this strike was carried out without the consent of the Pakistani government.