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Friday, December 11, 2009
Yahya Al Libbi: The Plot ThickensPakistani officials speaking anonymously have claimed that the senior Al Qaeda leader killed in Pakistan this week by a drone attack was, in fact, Yahya Al-Libbi. See stories here, here and here.
As reported here first yesterday, the jihadi forums have been rife with rumors that Al-Libbi was killed in the attack. However, a source at a leading Al Qaeda forum today posted that Al-Libbi was "100 percent alive and well," and the report was validated by the forum's moderator, which suggests the poster has some claim to credibility.
Shykh Abu Yahya Al Libi Hafizaullah is alive and 100% ok with good health n eman the recent rumor spread by kuffar is just their stupidity insha'Allah they will get answer for it.All of this falls under the label "speculation," however. The Pakistanis have been eager to name names when these drone attacks occur. They have prematurely buried Osama bin Laden, Ayman Al Zawahiri and Mustafa Al Yazid on multiple occasions. They are, to be blunt, completely unreliable in these matters.
UPDATE: According to the New York Times, Pakistani officials are insisting and U.S. officials are denying that Al-Libbi was killed in the attack. END UPDATE
If Al-Libbi is dead, it's extremely good news for the U.S. I was one of the very first analysts to start making noise about the threat Al-Libbi poses to Western interests on many levels.
On the down side, if he's alive, this false report is likely to enhance his standing. One of Al-Libbi's strengths, as I wrote before, is the fact he escaped from a U.S. run prison in Bagram air base in Afghanistan. This is a feat of military prowess which is very specific and very impressive, and the escape went a long way to establishing Al-Libbi's bonafides as a top-level jihadist -- he's a thinker and he's a tough guy, which is a compelling combination.
For Al-Libbi to "come back from the dead" after a premature announcement by the Pakistanis or (God forbid) by U.S. officials would thrust him even further into the limelight. Which is a bad thing. Al-Libbi -- young, charismatic and tough as nails -- is potentially more dangerous as a long-term leader for Al Qaeda than the fading stars of Zawahiri and Bin Laden. The last thing he needs is any help from us.
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