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Top al-Qaeda commander ‘killed’ by US strike in Pakistan PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 03 February 2008

Agence France-Presse . Miranshah, Pakistan

A top al-Qaeda commander who led Osama bin Laden’s terror network in Afghanistan was believed to have been killed when a missile fired by a US drone hit his Pakistani hideout, officials said Friday.

Abu Laith al-Libi is said to be one of bin Laden’s top five lieutenants and allegedly masterminded a deadly bombing at a US military base in Afghanistan during a visit by US vice-president Dick Cheney last year.

Pakistani security officials said the Libyan was one of 13 al-Qaeda militants staying at a compound in the country’s North Waziristan tribal region when it was destroyed in the air raid early on Tuesday.

‘Al-Libi was there at the time of the strike. No one survived, we believe he was killed,’ one intelligence official based in Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan, told the news agency.

‘The missile attack was carried out by a US Predator,’ the official said, quoting residents who witnessed a pilotless drone circling in the area for at least two days before the attack.

A senior Pakistani security official in Islamabad added: ‘We think al-Libi died in the missile attack.’ In a possible act of revenge, three Pakistani soldiers were killed and five injured on Friday when a suicide bomber rammed his car into a checkpost a few kilometres from the scene of the air strike, the army said.

Al-Libi was number five on a classified US Central Intelligence Agency wanted list seen by AFP, with a five-million-dollar bounty on his head.

The top two spots are occupied by bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

He had appeared in several al-Qaeda propaganda videos, but security officials and militant sources said he was also a key field commander who linked up with Afghanistan’s Taliban movement. ‘It will dent Osama bin Laden’s close network,’ a top Pakistani militant source told AFP.

‘He was one of the few among the close circles of bin Laden who would come and fight on the front.’

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