Senior al Qaeda leader Abu Laith al Libi killed in North Waziristan


Banner announcing Abu Laith al Libi’s death.

The fallout from the Jan. 29 airstrike is settling, and it appears a senior al Qaeda leader was killed in the attack in North Waziristan, Pakistan. Abu Laith al Libi was killed in the attack, according to a posting at a prominent jihadi website.

The Ekhlaas forum posted a banner praising the martyrdom of al Libi. “We ask God to accept and embrace Shahydna [martyrdom] Libyan Abu Zuhri,” a well-known poster stated in a thread at the forum.

Abu Laith al Libi. Click to view.

Al Libi was a prominent al Qaeda leader, but he is not the third or fourth in command of al Qaeda, as CNN has reported. Saif al Adel is currently believed to be al Qaeda’s third in command and strategic planner, while Abu Ubdaydah al Masri and Matiur Rehman are believed to have split the roles of senior operational leader. Rehman also heads al Qaeda in Pakistan, and al Masri commands al Qaeda forces in eastern Afghanistan.

Al Libi was a top-tier al Qaeda leader. He was the leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and also served as a chief spokesman for al Qaeda. Laith also commanded al Qaeda forces in Afghanistan. As leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, he announced the terror group’s merger with al Qaeda in November 2007.

There was some initial confusion over who was killed in the strike. A senior poster at Ekhlass indicated Abu Yahya al Libi, and not Abu Laith al Libi, was killed in the strike. “Jihadis online speculated over whether it was Abu Yahya al-Libi who was killed,” said Nick Grace, who monitors jihadi web forums. “But that this speculation ended when al Qaeda issued the official notice through al Fajr Information Center, al Qaeda’s official information distribution network.”

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.



  • Neo says:

    Good riddance, though everyone does realize that there will be big time payback on this one. I do doubt it would be in the states though, too much of a chance of tipping the next presidential election in an unfavorable direction by attacking the US directly. Military targets are a preference but are difficult for Al Qaeda to hit in a timely manor. AQ likes to leave an impression fairly quickly. Something like a large scale embassy bombing in some out of the way place would be a distinct possibility. They might decide to take it out on a US ally in an attempt to widen political divisions within NATO. No doubt the Europeans will be nervous about that possibility. If Al Qaeda had it’s way it would have assets ready for such a contingency. The Europeans have had some luck taking down AQ assets recently but who knows what’s still out there.

  • Tommy says:

    Awesome news! Now, hopefully we dont have to wait 5 or 6 months for another strike. There should be US missile attacks EVERYDAY in Pakistan. God knows there’s enough targets! That’s the only way to leave lasting damage. We have to take out several of their leaders and camps in a very short period of time. Give them no time to recover.

  • Marlin says:

    This is some hopeful analysis. I hope it’s true.

    Still, his reported killing late Monday or early Tuesday just outside Mir Ali in north Waziristan represents a significant gain in American or coalition intelligence gathering within the restive tribal belt. As of Thursday, his death had not been officially confirmed.
    “It means they are having some accurate intelligence information gathering…. Usually the second rank of leadership is very careful in its movements,” says Abdel Bari Atwan, editor in chief of al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper in London and the author of “The Secret History of Al Qaeda.”

    Christian Science Monitor: Al Qaeda commander in Pakistan reportedly killed in U.S. missile strike

  • Romanesq says:

    Just great news and you would hope that this story would be the lead on all US news broadcasts with a complete news report followed by analysis.
    This site should be mandatory reading for folks. People think there is nothing going on with terrorism because our media is not reporting it along with the analysis/discussion required.

  • Scratch another one

    Note, as Bill Roggio points out, this is not the Abu Yahya al Libi I mentioned a couple days ago in the post on Winds of Paradise 2.

  • Tommy says:

    I believe what that Christian Science Monitor article is saying is very true. Not only have we killed Al-Libi, there is another story about us uncovering 5 Bin Laden letters in the tribal region!! We must be getting better at something!

  • jeandon says:

    This is great, of true. Since we don’t have access to the site, it could be disinformation designed to stir anti-US passions in Pakistan. In any case, this is the way to fight this war, we have confirmed other kills by Predator aircraft. Use the original Afghan doctrine; put special ops in to observe and develop local allies. Quantities of bombs from Predators, and other aircraft at altitude, can be directed by them with exquisite accuracy. If, and when, AQ and the Taliban is badly hurt, The Paks can come in and occupy the territory for the first time in history. They should like that.

  • thanos says:

    This is great news, and if anyone deserved hellfire, it was this guy. (That’s if it was a hellfire)
    There have been other things happening inside Pakistan as well, as somone mentions above the packet of letters, the surrender of four TNSM commanders, the continuing arrests of Jundullah (Allah’s Brigade) members in Karachi. It’s getting interesting.

  • Marlin says:

    This article provides some informed speculation about the role al Libi played for al Qaeda in Pakistan.

    Rohan Gunaratna, author of “Inside Al Qaeda”, said Libi represented a bridge between al Qaeda and Libyan, Algerian, Uzbek and Turkmen Islamist militant groups.
    “We have seen that he was also instrumental in training a number of Pakistani radicals who are living in the west, who came to North Waziristan for training,” Gunaratna said.
    Gunaratna said though Libi was a seasoned fighter, it was doubtful he was running operations as his main function seemed to be training.

    Reuters: Pakistan strike ends lean time in al Qaeda hunt

  • captainjohann says:

    When will Musharaff and his patron bush will acknowledge that alqueda exists in Pakistan and also arab and uzbek elements still control the jihad.

  • Glenmore says:

    I wonder if the Baghdad Pet Market atrocity is the ‘payback’ for this?

  • Jimbo says:

    I doubt it Glenmore.

  • nick says:

    Thought I’d let you know was credited with this news on the Fox News ticker last night. It’s good to see some recognition where recognition is due.

  • Warren Lsuk says:

    I agree with Nick. It is good to see the recognition for all of the hard work Bill and others have put into this site the the former Fourth Rail site.

  • JusCruzn says:

    Anybody still have any questions about Al Qaeda being in Pakistan??


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