US confirms al Qaeda no. 2 killed in drone strike

Published: June 5, 2012
Abu Yaha al-Libi is considered to be a very senior aide to Ayman Al Zawahiri. PHOTO: AFP

Abu Yaha al-Libi is considered to be a very senior aide to Ayman Al Zawahiri. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON / PESHAWAR: A US official has confirmed that the al Qaeda deputy leader, Abu Yahya al-Libi, was killed in a drone strike in Pakistan.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a US official told The Express Tribune that the AQ leader was amongst the group’s most “experienced and versatile leaders.” The official said that Abu Yahya al Libi was an operational trainer and head of the Central Shura head, and “played a critical role in the group’s planning against the West, providing oversight of the external operations efforts.”

Abu Yahya al Libi was reportedly killed in a drone strike in North Waziristan on Monday morning. That strike had killed at least 15 people, one of the largest tolls in a single attack.


The White House also confirmed the kill. “We have confirmation of his death,” spokesperson Jay Carney told a news briefing, however he declined to say where or how the network’s deputy leader died. He, however, described the incident as a “major blow” to the militant group.

A US official said that Ayman al-Zawahiri, the head of al Qaeda “will be hard-pressed to find any one person who can readily step into Abu Yahya’s shoes.” Explaining why that would be difficult, he added that “in addition to his gravitas as a longstanding member of AQ’s leadership, Abu Yahya’s religious credentials gave him the authority to issue fatwas, operational approvals, and guidance to the core group in Pakistan and regional affiliates.”

“There is no one who even comes close in terms of replacing the expertise AQ has just lost,” said the US official.

Earlier, reports quoting US officials had said that the strike in North Waziristan, the third in as many days, had targeted Libi. However, it was unconfirmed at the time whether the strike had managed to achieve its target.

Libi had risen to become al Qaeda’s no. 2 after al-Zawahiri was elevated to the post of chief in the aftermath of Osama bin Laden’s assassination.

For the US this would be the latest trump card to suggest its controversial drone strike is reaping benefits.

Pakistan, on the other hand, on Tuesday summoned US charge d’affaires to the foreign ministry to convey serious ‘concerns’ and to lodge a formal protest against the ‘illegal’ and ‘counterproductive’ strikes.

Taliban mourn ‘big loss’

A senior Pakistani Taliban leader said on Tuesday that the death of al Qaeda’s second in command, Abu Yahya al-Libi, in a drone strike in northwest Pakistan was a “big loss”.

“After Doctor Sahib (al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri), he was the main al Qaeda leader,” the Pakistani Taliban leader, who asked not to be named, told Reuters.

Libi’s death is yet to be independently verified. The al Qaeda, or any of its affiliates too have not yet issued any statements which confirm or deny his death.

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Reader Comments (62)

  • Basit
    Jun 5, 2012 - 11:13PM

    Interesting to note that ET has better direct line to US DOD spokesman than even ISPR. Says a lot.


  • Singh
    Jun 5, 2012 - 11:16PM

    Kudos to drone


  • Noble Tufail
    Jun 5, 2012 - 11:18PM

    who varifies the “big catches” of drones on the ground.


  • saqibtahir
    Jun 5, 2012 - 11:19PM

    Love Drones.


  • Informed.
    Jun 5, 2012 - 11:20PM

    Wow, this anonymous US official seems to use the exact same words when speaking to the BBC and when speaking to ET. Quite the coincidence, no?


  • Imran Con
    Jun 5, 2012 - 11:22PM

    @Noble Tufail:
    Pakistan security officials.


  • Informed.
    Jun 5, 2012 - 11:24PM

    . Another success in the drone campaign, in an election year in the US with a President who has increased the program ten fold.

    @Noble Tufail:
    The Taliban, and other targeted groups usually confirm US claims when dealing with a high profile target such as Libi. They did so with Osama and others. They won’t make an unverified claim like this only to have Libi show up in a video denying it.Recommend

  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Jun 5, 2012 - 11:25PM

    The news was earlier broke by CNN than ET.

    Killing Al-Qaeda terrorists is a positive sign, but what about the innocent people who are also killed during uncounted drone attacks on Pakistan?


  • American
    Jun 5, 2012 - 11:35PM

    @Mohammad Ali Siddiqui:
    If you stay close to a terrorist, you run the risk of being blown up by the terrorist, his bombs, his enemies, or the drones.
    That’s what about the “innocent” civilians.Recommend

  • Malik Hamza
    Jun 5, 2012 - 11:46PM

    Some say his brother was killed some say he was at first the local sources said that only militants were killed . How does the USA know that the second in command was killed is Obama or CIA operatives are in that house having a JIrga WITH THEM AND when these militants dont agree the usa decides to TOAST them …


  • Noble Tufail
    Jun 5, 2012 - 11:46PM

    @ difference between terrorists and NATO/CIA.. as they both kill pakistanis. Pakistan must get out of this dirty war as soon as possible.


  • Naseer
    Jun 5, 2012 - 11:49PM

    An eye opener for the people against the drone strikes. I will vote against the drones only if I have a little confidence that our security forces will take any action against the terrorist.


  • Dodo bird
    Jun 5, 2012 - 11:53PM

    Fourth time he got killed hahhahahahah


  • Ali
    Jun 5, 2012 - 11:54PM

    When you become judge, jury and executioner you will kill injustly and will then produce more militants with a bone to pick. Drones are not solving any problems for the American or Pakistani people, only creating a bigger set of future problems.


  • Truthbetold
    Jun 6, 2012 - 12:03AM

    @Mohammad Ali Siddiqui:

    “Killing Al-Qaeda terrorists is a positive sign, but what about the innocent people who are also killed during uncounted drone attacks on Pakistan?”

    If Pakistan had acted to take out these terrorists on its own initiative, actually not given them support and shelter in the first place, the global community and the US would not have had the need to take action. So, if any innocent civilians are killed in these attacks, Pakistan has to take the biggest share of the blame.


  • Riaz Khan
    Jun 6, 2012 - 12:06AM

    @Mohammad Ali Siddiqui:
    Word of advice,
    Do not invite Al Qaeda members as guests to your home…..

    @Noble Tufail:
    Simple solution,If we stop harboring the terrorists,the NATO will stop killing us…


  • jadogar
    Jun 6, 2012 - 12:11AM

    Yes exactly how they confirmed that IRAQ’s making nukes but when in the end after completely demolishing Iraq and finding nothing as such nukes, came up with a god damn APOLOGY!



  • Saleem
    Jun 6, 2012 - 12:13AM

    The terrorists do not follow any rules in their war so why should the USA. The drone strategy is effective and will over time become more precise as technology improves and hopefully less collateral damage.


  • DevilHunterX
    Jun 6, 2012 - 12:13AM

    How many number 2 are there?


  • Nikarish
    Jun 6, 2012 - 12:16AM

    This could become a great movie. Al Qaeda No.1 and No.2 found in Pakistan.


  • fahim
    Jun 6, 2012 - 12:17AM

    90% of all these leaders were on Pak soil.. and still we live in perennial denial mode. IMO, the world is right that we deserve the mess and isolation we are in today. More is about to come in future.


  • Faesal
    Jun 6, 2012 - 12:21AM

    One simple thing which nobody questions , Why would Al qaeda leaders be still in Pakistan knowing their backs aren’t safe their. Its stupidity.

    If i know a thief is hiding in a particular house and the thief knows that i know that he is there. Would be stupid enough to stay there all the time?


  • Iqbal
    Jun 6, 2012 - 12:31AM

    “Drones are not solving any problems for the American or Pakistani people, only creating a bigger set of future problems.”
    I disagree – its the opposite. If Pakistan wants to exist in twenty years time it has to be seen as law abiding, not sponsoring terrorism, corruption free and litterate. With more then 25% of the budget being allocated to defence you will perhaps be the first person to agree that the army should be professional and be swift in getting rid of militancy. However they are so incompetent that the Americans do their job for them. Last year we saw OBL, today we had al-libi and next month or year we will have Zawahiri and Hafiz Saeed. The sooner they all go we can start a new beginning if it is not too late. If not, expect Pakistan to break up as Balochistan, some parts going to Afganistan and some to India.


  • Zeeshan
    Jun 6, 2012 - 12:33AM

    Yah,he is killed for 83rd time.Waiting for 84th


  • Mirza
    Jun 6, 2012 - 12:52AM

    The sharp reaction of Pakistani establishment was an indicator of the death of big strategic asset. One could feel the pain in the reaction against that specific attack. Let us name his successor and he would be a dead man soon. For the naysayers OBL did not die in Abbottabad attack either, in fact he was not even there. Peace loving Pakistani civilians appreciate your efforts to save us from the fanatic terrorists. Thanks a drone!Recommend

  • Adeel759
    Jun 6, 2012 - 12:54AM

    Top 2 killed and Pakistan summons US Charge D’ Affaire to lodge protest while Pak didn’t lodge any protest for many strikes carried out in just last ten days………..does it say anything abt Pak loyalties? But after this post i’ve decided to stop positive and constructive criticism of Pak establishment because if poeple like Asma Jahangir are not safe who the heck we are to those mighty cats. Good bye people and love you ET. God bless Pakistan and good job Salim Shahzad killers for shutting another mouth ……..


  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Jun 6, 2012 - 1:03AM


    The US has license to kill any one in the world, whether terrorist or an innocent person.

    Thus there is no difference for US between a terrorist and an innocent person.

    You people call it as “collateral damage”

    What a justification US has come up which even does not justify killing of innocent people any where in the world.


  • truth detector
    Jun 6, 2012 - 1:08AM

    @Ali Absolutely right. But why would ‘American’ care. Each drone strike makes him ‘feel good’ and ‘secure’ as he is told by corporate media. He is going to go home eat pizza, drink some wine and watch baseball. He does not want to know if civilians were killed or not, frankly he does not give a damn since he does not have to live with the consequences. he is living his ‘American Dream’ ……………


  • Mj
    Jun 6, 2012 - 1:24AM

    The due process of the law applies to those who are willing to subject themselves to it. Do you think that AlQaeda members will give themselves up if they’re served arrest warrants?


  • American
    Jun 6, 2012 - 1:47AM

    IF you undertake educational reform, and stop manufacturing hatred for every one else, THEN the whole world will become your friend and ally. There will be no need for drones, because then, there would be no terrorists.


  • Nayla
    Jun 6, 2012 - 1:52AM

    QUESTION to ALL: If the US/NATO completely withdrew from Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the Taliban/Al Queda/”mujahadeen” no longer had to fight against them, what do you think they would do then? Do you think they would peacefully absorb back into their countries and communities and become peaceful citizens again? Or, do you think they would just turn their sights on attacking and trying to overthrow the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan, so they can install the version of Sharia that they believe should be installed? What would these people do if they didn’t have Jihad to wage anymore? Seems like they would just create another “jihad”.

    I honestly do not have the answer. It’s such a complex problem. On the one hand, I do see that foreign “invaders” in Muslim lands just instigates, but it doesn’t seem like withdrawing is the answer either.

    Perhaps, some day, the answer will reveal itself and there can be peace.


  • DB
    Jun 6, 2012 - 1:53AM

    Pakistanis, please be prepared to pay with your lives in the coming backlash from TTP.


  • j. von hettlingen
    Jun 6, 2012 - 2:10AM

    Another blow for Pakistan that the US had once again ignored its sovreignty and the popular outrage.


  • Tch tch
    Jun 6, 2012 - 2:28AM

    27 killed for this idiot who biggest crime he was ever accused of was making you tube videos??
    BTW he was captured And held without charge by the Americans in Bagram Airbase from 2001 – 2005.
    He conveniently “escaped” from arguably the most guarded base and Asia and made couple of videos and now is dead,as a part of Obamas pre election campaign.


  • S. A. Bukhara
    Jun 6, 2012 - 3:03AM

    …someone remind me again why we’re so opposed to drone strikes? If the drones can take care of these lunatics and our faujis won’t, then what is the problem. And to date I have not seen compelling proof of collateral damage from drone strikes. So Mr. Kaptaan, please use your brain rather than your pseudo Pathan machoism.


  • Raj - USA
    Jun 6, 2012 - 3:06AM

    For those who ar complaining about Drone attacks:

    Ibtada-E-ishq hai rota hai kya, aage aage dekhiye hota hai kya – Mir Taqi Mir.

    Thought this Ghazal may be appropriate. My Urdu is not that great. So, excuse if I have misunderstood the proper meaning of the Ghazal.


  • Muhammad Hassan
    Jun 6, 2012 - 3:12AM

    Extremely childish comments by some people here; Pakistani intelligence sources confirm if the target has been hit, duh! Ever heard of “intelligence sharing” between the US and Pakistan. Drone attacks are most probably carried out according to information from the Pakistan Army.Recommend

  • Jehanzeb
    Jun 6, 2012 - 3:32AM

    Nishan-e-Haider for drones. They are doing what the Pak Army could not or would not do.


  • Jawad U Rahman
    Jun 6, 2012 - 3:33AM

    Wasn’t Mr. Libby violating Pakistan’s sovereignty by living inside its borders with his armed fighters? Why on earth are we letting these monsters treat our territory as a laboratory for world destruction? Isn’t it about time that we reclaim every inch of our sovereign land from these criminals? Mr. Kayani? Hallo !!!!


  • kanwal
    Jun 6, 2012 - 3:40AM

    When the makers of these militants come out to bombard them, allegedly, without any courts or legal justification, the whole thing becomes a farce. And since USA has been so right about iraq, veitnam and afghanistan jihad, i completely trust fiascos now.


  • Haris Chaudhry
    Jun 6, 2012 - 3:51AM

    Good riddance.. another 10,000 to go..

    Get rid of these murderous, crazy, deviant, medieval, thugs that have no right to live amongst the human civilisation..

    Drones zindabad..

    Long live the technology and down with these terrorists.


  • Ali
    Jun 6, 2012 - 4:11AM

    And once again all mahinery in synch in the time of need. Drones kill top man, Al Qaeda agrees. Drones are good, shut up Pakistan.


  • Its (still) Econonmy Stupid
    Jun 6, 2012 - 4:24AM

    Us demands an apology from Pakistan for death of all 9/11 victims as they were killed by Al Qaeda #1and 2 and all those relevant numbers who were living in Pakistan.Now US can deduct 1million/victim from the aid to Pakistan.


  • gp65
    Jun 6, 2012 - 4:37AM

    @Faesal: “One simple thing which nobody questions , Why would Al qaeda leaders be still in Pakistan knowing their backs aren’t safe their.”

    They are safer in North Waziristan than anywhere else because they have the protection of your army. So drone is the only risk they have. If they go to another country, the country’s army/police will also be after them, so they will be less safe.


  • Char Latan
    Jun 6, 2012 - 4:41AM

    He does look like No. 2.


  • T Khan
    Jun 6, 2012 - 4:46AM

    especially if the thief knows I am a turn coat…. :D
    To me it seems the thief and I are both Muslims of the day :P


  • a&a
    Jun 6, 2012 - 5:02AM

    well done drones


  • PakArmySoldier
    Jun 6, 2012 - 5:35AM

    Good riddance.


  • OG
    Jun 6, 2012 - 5:36AM

    yes drone strikes kill innocent civilians but they also take out some of the badest/meanest Al Qaeda members. one can then argue that drones kill more civilians then terrorists or does more harm but then again the U.S at least tries to get the terrorist only but when the terrorists plan a attack… they always kill civilians without any mercy.. blow themselves up in the middle of a crowd or what not! isn’t that worse than the drone strikes?


  • Jun 6, 2012 - 5:51AM

    @Mohammad Ali Siddiqui: Any opinion on the innocent people being killed by terrorists and also by those who are targeting innocent Shias and other minorities.


  • jibran
    Jun 6, 2012 - 5:58AM

    You can run but you can’t escape. Another job well done.


  • Babbarsher khan
    Jun 6, 2012 - 6:30AM

    Good observation, speaks in volume of credibility of ISPR.


  • Yaida M
    Jun 6, 2012 - 6:30AM

    It is easy to see why we object to drone strikes so much. All our assets are being whittled away one strike at a time :-( Kaptaan saab!! Where are you when Al-Qaeda needs you??


  • Random
    Jun 6, 2012 - 8:22AM

    @ American – how convenient. That hatred is stemming from the fact that you go and kill anyone who disagrees or is in your way. But hey Americans are always right and all the bad guys are Muslims who want to dish out the same treatment you are giving to muslims.

    O how i wish we had the guts and the power to bring down your merchants of death Aka drones.


  • Faesal
    Jun 6, 2012 - 8:40AM

    I disagree. How do you think thats safety when Americans can come and bomb any time any where. That’s no safety at all. Not for civilians let alone high valued targets. There are plenty of countries ready to accommodate which are not in the spotlight unlike Pakistan.

    Pakistan have no purpose or interest to keep him within her sights. The guy belongs to organization responsible for deaths of thousands of Pakistanis.

    Indians like you are just too ignorant to see this perspective.


  • Hassan
    Jun 6, 2012 - 8:55AM

    How many no 2 are there that US has to kill?


  • Jun 6, 2012 - 9:19AM


    When USA needs these foreigners to fight with Soviet Union they invited in Pakistan, train them and then as soon as Soviet Union is defeated the USA left without solving what to do with these foreigners(Tajiks, Afghans, Chechans etc). These foreign fighters (USA called them AQ) marrried here in Pakistan and was living. When USA came to fight with Afghanistan Taliban these AQ people were used again to fight against USA. The USA is fighting back with them. I dunno if it right to blame AQ as they are supporting Afghan Taliban and US is after them.. How come the world blame AQ or Pakistan? It is the world and USA who created this mess and Pakistan is suffer for them.


  • Jun 6, 2012 - 10:58AM

    @mikek: Sir, I totally agree with you when you say “When USA needs these foreigners to fight with Soviet Union they invited in Pakistan, train them and then as soon as Soviet Union is defeated the USA lteft ” and also “It is the world and USA who created this mess and Pakistan is suffer for them.”
    Yes Sir the world politics is not based on morality, It is based on national interest. At that time Pakistan also must be having some interest to let USA bring foreigners into their land and help train them. If you invited them to create the mess how can you blame them for them for the mess.


  • Hajira Amir
    Jun 6, 2012 - 3:37PM

    Please get your facts right. American’s did not invite anyone from anywhere.
    The whole Mujahideen idea was Pakistan’s. In fact training had begun long before the Americans including Charlie Wilson promoted the idea and Reagan decided to go with it. For Pakistan’s support, the Americans provided training,.arms and money very liberally. Those were some of the best years economically for Pakistan.
    And yet you harp on how the Americans supported OBL & his ilk and then abandoned you all.


  • Nikarish
    Jun 7, 2012 - 12:38AM

    Drones will soon reach half century score;=)


  • politically incorrect
    Jun 7, 2012 - 3:18AM

    On last count Pakistan govt has send it’s 27th strong and semi-final protest to the US authorities against drone attack.


  • Sexton Blake
    Jun 7, 2012 - 9:26AM

    The U.S. has spent about $10 trillion plus on the war since 9/11, and so far had killed around 5 top terrorists. Two trillion dollars per man does not sound like a very good return. No wonder the Taliban Government found it difficult to satisfy the U.S. Government. It would have sent them broke.


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