Al Qaeda number 2 Atiyah Abd-al Rahman was killed in Waziristan on August 22, according to US officials.
The officials, however, declined to confirm the circumstances around Atiyah’s death. A drone strike, that killed four people, is reported to have taken place in North Waziristan.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, a US official said that this was a major blow to al Qaeda. “Atiyah was at the top of al Qaeda’s trusted core. He ran daily operations for the group, and has been Zawahiri’s second-in-command since Bin Laden’s death in May.”
According to the US official, Atiyah was known by al Qaeda affiliates and was entrusted with speaking on behalf of both Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. “He planned the details of al Qaeda operations and its propaganda. His combination of background, experience and abilities are unique in al Qaeda—without question, he will not be easily replaced. Zawahiri needed Atiyah’s experience and connections to help manage al Qaeda. Now it will be even harder for him to consolidate control.”
Another senior US administration official told The Express Tribune that “Atiyah’s death is a tremendous loss for al Qaeda, because Zawahiri was relying heavily on him to help guide and run the organisation, especially since Bin Laden’s death. The trove of materials from Bin Laden’s compound showed that Atiyah was deeply involved in directing al Qaeda’s operations even before the raid. He had multiple responsibilities and will be difficult to replace.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 28th, 2011.