A drone strike targeting Al-Qaeda senior leader, Abu Yahya al-Libi, was successful, US officials say.
Abu Yahya al-Lib was killed alongside 14 other suspected militants in what Pakistani authorities described as a pre-dawn CIA drone strike on Monday in North Waziristan, near the Afghan border.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said that the intelligence community had information which led them to conclude al-Libi had been killed.
Sources in Pakistan have not confirmed al-Libi’s death
US officials believe that Abu Yahya al-Libi became al-Qaeda’s second in command after Egyptian-born Ayman al-Zawahiri took over from Osama bin Laden as al-Qaeda leader. Osama was killed in a 2011 raid by US forces.
Al-Libi, a longstanding member of al-Qaeda’s leadership, appeared in numerous Al-Qaeda videos and was considered the chief architect of al-Qaeda’s global propaganda machine.
“It is significant,” a US official said, saying Libi headed Al-Qaeda operations in Pakistan and outreach to affiliates such as Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has attacked US targets.
“There is no-one who even comes close in terms of replacing the expertise al-Qaeda has just lost,” another US official stated.
The official added that al-Qaeda’s leadership “will be hard-pressed to find any one person who can readily step into [Libi’s] shoes”.
The BBC reports that in Monday’s strike, two missiles were fired at a suspected militant compound in Hesokhel, east of Miranshah – the main town in the volatile tribal region of North Waziristan.
The first missile struck the compound, killing three militants while second missile then killed 12 more militants who had arrived at the scene.
Libi had previously escaped from a high security US prison at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan in 2005.
US president Barack Obama, during a visit to Afghanistan on May stated that his goal of defeating the group behind the September 11 attacks in 2001 was “now within our reach.”