Washington, (IANS) Al Qaeda number two Abu Yahya al-Libi is dead, the White House said Tuesday.
The US intelligence community believe it is a “serious blow” to the Al Qaeda leadership after the death of terror mastermind Osama bin Laden over a year ago, it said.
“We have confirmation of his death,” said White House Spokesman Jay Carney during his daily press briefing, Xinhua reported.
Calling al-Libi the terror network’s “general manager”, Carney refused to confirm the location and specifics of al-Libi’s death, but said he had a range of experience that will be hard for Al Qaeda to replicate.
“There is now no clear successor to take on the breadth of his responsibilities,” Carney said. Al-Libi rose to second-in-command of Al Qaeda behind Ayman al-Zawahiri, who replaced Osama as the group’s leader.
Citing anonymous sources, US media earlier said al-Libi was taken out in a US drone strike Monday in Pakistan’s North Waziristan region, near the Afghanistan border.
Reports said at least six missiles were fired at a militant compound near the town of Mir Ali.
Al-Libi, a Libyan, played a critical role in the group’s planning against the West, providing oversight of the efforts for external operations.
According to information released along with the State Department’s reward for justice program, al-Libi, born in 1963, was a religious scholar who used his religious training to influence people and legitimize the actions of Al Qaeda. The US government has a $1 million bond on his head.
Al-Libi was captured in 2002 and held by US forces in Bagram detention facility in Afghanistan, but escaped on July 10, 2005. He has since appeared in a number of propaganda videos.
Al-Libi was described as a key motivator in the global jihad movement and his messages convey a clear threat to US nationals or property worldwide, according to the US government.