Al-Qaeda Deputy Abu Yahya al-Libi Killed in Pakistan
By William Tucker
Typically I prefer to wait for confirmation from both U.S. and al-Qaeda sources before discussing the reported death of a leader. Although most news outlets reporting on this story are quoting one unnamed individual, word just came from the White House they believe Abu Yahya was killed in a recent U.S. drone strike. The drone strike in question occurred early Monday morning in North Waziristan and ultimately killed about 15 militants. Tribal sources that witnessed the attack stated that one missile hit a home occupied by foreigners and a second missile struck as more militants arrived on the scene. Most drone strikes utilize multiple aircraft for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance in addition to the armed platforms.
Abu Yahya has been reported dead before when he was the al-Qaeda commander for Afghanistan operations in 2009. After the death of Usama bin Laden in 2011, Abu Yahya was reported to have been named as the deputy to Ayman al-Zawahiri as the latter was elevated to the top spot. The death of a leader in a militant organization is an important development; however al-Qaeda still maintains a large presence in Afghanistan and Pakistan. These militants have increasingly fallen under the command of local leaders. This is quite a reversal from the years following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. This will present a new challenge to regional governments as the U.S. prepares to withdraw.