From CBS, Dec. 11:
Sources tell CBS News the al Qaeda operative believed killed in a drone strike in Pakistan this week is Saleh al-Somali, who was in charge of external operations for the group. He was considered one of a half dozen top Qaeda operatives.
Saleh al-Somali’s position as al Qaeda’s external operations boss means he was in charge of plotting against the U.S. and Europe…
Earlier, Pakistan media had incorrectly reported that the strike killed al Qaeda’s number 3 in command, Abu Yahya al-Libi.
Previously, al-Somali had worked in tribal areas of Pakistan with newly arrived Westerners recruited by al Qaeda.
Intelligence officials have confirmed that the pace of attacks by armed unmanned aerial vehicles, conducted largely by the CIA, has increased during the Obama administration.
The strikes have fanned anti-American sentiment in Pakistan because they have caused many civilian deaths. Since Jan. 28, 2008, there have been at least 67 suspected U.S. missile strikes into Pakistan, killing more than 721 people. Intelligence officials believe that at least 56 were militants, according to Pakistani intelligence officials and witnesses interviewed by The Associated Press after each strike.
So, 56 “militants” killed out of 721 deaths. And we can assume that at least a sizable percentage of the loved ones of the remaining 665 joined the insurgency to seek revenge. If anyone at the CIA is bothering to do the math, the relentless drone strikes are utterly counter-productive.
Now, as to these supposed al-Qaeda leaders… We haven’t heard of this Saleh al-Somali before, but the supposed Abu Yahya al-Libi sure gets around. Last year, an Abu Yahia al-Libi was reported to have escaped from a prison in Afghanistan. A supposed Abu Laith al-Libi was reported killed in a drone strike in Pakistan last year. (Pakistan’s then-ruler Pervez Musharraf was apparently only informed as the operation was underway, and the hit was later invoked in defense of Colombia’s air strike on FARC guerillas in Ecuador.) An Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi was reported to have killed himself in a Libyan prison this May. Then there’s Abu Faraj al-Libi who was reported captured in Pakistan in 2007, and who Wikipedia informs us is now at Guantánamo Bay.
We hope the CIA is doing a better job of keeping track of all these al-Libis than we (or the mainstream media) are.
See our last post on Pakistan.