As Sahab releases video of Abu Yahya al Libi

Today As Sahab, al Qaeda’s propaganda outlet, released a videotape of Abu Yahya al Libi, who was reportedly killed in a US drone strike in North Waziristan on June 4. The video addresses the Syrian conflict. The SITE Intelligence Group notes that the “video production date merely gives the Hijri year 1433, meaning it was produced sometime after November 2011.” From the SITE statement announcing the video:

The message post with the video on the forums includes “may Allah protect him” after Libi’s name, an honorific that is usually reserved for individuals who are alive, which may indicate that al-Fajr [the online distribution outlet for As Sahab] believes him to be alive or is awaiting official confirmation from al-Qaeda as to his fate.

Al Qaeda will say “may Allah have on mercy him” when referring to a leader who is dead.

But this doesn’t mean that al Libi is alive. Here is what I said on June 10, when As Sahab announced that a video of al Libi was in the pipeline:

Keep in mind that al Qaeda released a Ramadan video by Atiyah Abd al Rahman less that two weeks after he was killed. The tape and the accompanying announcement appear to have been created prior to Atiyah’s death.

Al Qaeda has yet to either officially announce Abu Yahya’s death or deny the reports of his death. But as the Atiyah incident shows, there is precedent for al Qaeda to release a tape of a leader after he was reported killed but before his death was officially announced.

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

5 Comments

  • Joe says:

    If he were able to do so, Al Libi would be appearing in a video stating incontrovertibly that he is alive. The fact that they are releasing a video which does not prove anything suggests that they are not able to do so.

  • mike merlo says:

    These post scripts from beyond the grave are starting to remind me of clowns like Timothy Leary who had snippets of meaningless idiocy surface after they died in various media outlets as if some how that was to be the equivalent of an after life moment.

  • TMP says:

    @ Joe – The same type reasoning was said about UBL for years and a great number of other AQ HVTs…. The notion that AQ would run to give info to us is silly and not their MO.
    What is part of their typical MO, oddly enough, is they do tend to declare when one of their own is KIA.
    They don’t seem to mind when we suspect somone is dead…..However, when one of their own is dead for certain they oftenly in rather short notice admit to such.

  • wallbangr says:

    @@Joe/TMP — Keep in mind that even if they did want to get a video out to rub it in our faces, let’s not forget that getting the tape out ordinarily takes time because they have to worry about what secrets the tapes may reveal. If he had a close shave this last time, I would not expect a mad rush to possbly give away his location and/or condition. These guys know that we use information from the tapes themselves, as well as the chain of custody as it passes from militant to militant to media outlet to locate them and/or ascertain whether they may be injured.

  • mrmouth says:

    The guys dead. Put him in front of a blank wall stating some specifics to prove he is alive. It’s not difficult or dangerous, and they have done it in the past.
    There also could be the issue of differing opinions on how to address this issue. Some might want to put out proof of life and some might be completely happy with us knowing or not knowing.
    Whatever the case, the people hunting these guys appear to have a big red X over his face.

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