NEWS

Top Al Qaeda Leader Killed

By John Barham, International Editor

Western counterterrorism and intelligence officials say that a top Al-Qaeda leader has been killed in a remote region of Pakistan. Abu Laith Al-Libi, 41, was responsible for operational planning and training.

News of Libi's death first appeared on www.ekhlaas.org, a website used by Islamist groups. It gave no explanation for his death. One western official told CNN that Al-Libi is "not far below the importance of the top two al Qaeda leaders" Osama bin Laden and Ayman Al-Zawahiri.”

Officials have not explained how Al-Llibi was killed, or where exactly he died. Analysts say that he has been seen in the lawless Afghanistan/Pakistan border region, an area that has fallen into the hands of Pakistani extremists close to Al-Qaeda and Afghanistan’s Taliban rebels.

According to the BBC, a missile attack in Pakistan's North Waziristan province killed 12 or 13 militants. Local residents told the BBC a pilotless drone launched the missile. Pakistani intelligence officials said six Central Asians and seven Arabs were killed in the attack, one of whom may have been Al-Libi. 

Al-Libi was a Moroccan and his death may hinder Al Qaeda’s campaign to destabilize fragile North African states, particularly Algeria. Al Qaeda suicide bombers struck a United Nations building and a court building in Algiers last December, killing more than 30 people.

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