Abu Yahya al Libi rumored killed in US strike: jihadi forums


The Bagram Four:

Abu Abdallah al Shami (upper left); Abu Nasir al Qahtani (upper right); Abu Yahya al Libi (lower left); Omar al Farouq (lower right).

Jihadi forums have been speculating that Abu Yahya al Libi, a chief al Qaeda ideologue and a popular leader in jihadi circles, may have been killed in yesterday’s airstrike in South Waziristan. Late yesterday, senior US officials contacted NBC and CBS and indicated that a senior al Qaeda leader had been killed. CBS said Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri were not killed, however. Views from the Occident trolled the jihadi forums and and dug up the rumors of al Libi’s death:

Rumors are spreading among some cyber jihadis that this as-yet unnamed “top” AQC [al Qaeda Central] leader may be Abu Yahya al-Libi, who is considered by some expert analysts to be a rising star in the transnational jihadi movement. A skilled orator and respected jihadi-Salafi theologian, Abu Yahya first gained renown in 2005 when he and several other prisoners escaped from the U.S. military base at Bagram in Afghanistan (which was also a former Soviet base). Since then, he has appeared in dozens of AQC video productions and has addressed jihadis across the globe from Somalia to East Turkestan to North Africa, though he is believed to be (or have been) operating out of Pashtun areas of Pakistan.

Abu Yahya al Libi was a military commander in Afghanistan until his capture by the US military during 2003. He rose to prominence in al Qaeda after he escaped from Bagram Prison in Afghanistan in the summer of 2005, along with senior al Qaeda operatives Abu Nasir al Qahtani, Abu Abdallah al Shami, and Omar Farouq.

Abu Yahya al Libi is the only member of the notorious “Bagram Four” still active in al Qaeda. Since the 2005 escape, two of his fellow escapees have been killed and another has been captured. In March 2009, the US put a $5 million bounty out for information leading to his arrest.

While the rumor certainly can’t be discounted, I suspect Abu Yahya al Libi was not in the Ladha region in South Waziristan. The Pakistani military is currently conducting an operation against the Taliban in the Mehsud tribal areas and claims to have occupied Ladha. The seniormost al Qaeda leaders would likely have vacated Ladha and other regions in the Mehsud tribal areas long before the Pakistani Army arrived.

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

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  • Ibn Siqilli says:

    Thanks very much for the mention!
    The same cyber jihadis are now saying he’s “100%” and alive. No official verification.

  • Marlin says:

    A little bit more confirmation, but still nothing definitive.

    A U.S. government official says a top al Qaeda operative has been killed in a drone attack in western Pakistan, and local media says that the strike killed al Qaeda’s number 3 in command, Abu Yahya al-Libi.
    The U.S. is still not confirming the report, CBS News has learned.

    CBS News: Pakistan Media: Drone Killed Qaeda’s No. 3
    There is also updated information on where the strike took place.

    A US drone targeted a vehicle by launching two missiles in Sipalga area, 12 kilometers from Miranshah, North Waziristan.

    Geo TV: US claims killing Abu Yahya al Libi in SWA drone strike

  • Ibn Siqilli says:

    A cyber jihadi has adamantly stated that he has “confirmed” Abu Yahya was NOT killed, but a “Sheikh ——Shami of AQ” was. Perhaps this was Abu Mansur al-Shami?
    Most of the mainstream media reporting seems to be reporting on the last CBS story, with no official confirmation either yay or nay.


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