Al Qaeda's No 2 killed in Pak: US
Washington, Aug 28: Al Qaeda's second-in-command, Atiyah Abd Al Rahman, has been killed in Pakistan, US officials said on Saturday.
The Libyan national had been the network's operational leader before rising to Al Qaeda's No. 2 spot after the US killed Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden during a raid on his Pakistan compound in May.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said last month that Al Qaeda's defeat was within reach if the US could mount a string of successful attacks on the group's weakened leadership.
"Now is the moment, following what happened with Bin Laden, to put maximum pressure on them," Panetta said, "because I do believe that if we continue this effort we can really cripple Al Qaeda as a major threat."
Since Bin Laden's death, Al Qaeda's structure has been unsettled and US officials have hoped to capitalize on that. The more uncertain the leadership, the harder it is for Al Qaeda to operate covertly and plan attacks.
Bin Laden's longtime deputy, Ayman Al Zawahiri, is running the group but is considered a divisive figure who lacks the founder's charisma and ability to galvanize Al Qaida's disparate franchises.
A US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to summarize the government's intelligence on Al Rahman, said Al Rahman's death will make it harder for Zawahiri to oversee what is considered an increasingly weakened organisation. "Zawahiri needed Atiyah's experience and connections to help manage Al Qaida," the official said.
Al Rahman was killed August 22 in the lawless Pakistani tribal region of Waziristan, according to a senior administration who also insisted on anonymity to discuss intelligence issues.
The official would not say how Al Rahman was killed. But his death came on the same day that a CIA drone strike was reported in Waziristan.
Al Rahman has been thought to be dead before. Last year, there were reports that Rahman was killed in a drone strike but neither senior US administration officials nor Al Qaida ever confirmed them.
Al Rahman, believed to be in his mid-30s, was a close confidant of Bin Laden and once served as Bin Laden's emissary to Iran. AP
Lastupdate on : Sun, 28 Aug 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 28 Aug 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 29 Aug 2011 00:00:00 IST
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