kunc-header-1440x90.png
NPR for Northern Colorado
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Update: Drone Strike Killed Al-Qaida's 'Leading Propagandist,' Official Says

The man described as al-Qaida's "leading propagandist" and the No. 2 leader in that terrorist organization was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan on Monday, NPR, CNN and The Associated Press say they've been told by "a U.S. official."

That word came around 1:40 p.m. ET.

Our original post. Reports: Drone Strike Targeted Al-Qaida's 'Leading Propagandist'

"Pakistani intelligence officials say they have evidence al-Qaida's second in command was in a house hit by a U.S. drone strike but they do not know whether he was killed," The Associated Press is reporting.

CBS News says "U.S. officials confirm" that the strike was aimed at al-Qaida's "leading propagandist," Abu Yahya al-Libi. Those officials could not, however, say whether he was killed or injured.

NPR has not independently heard from two or more officials with knowledge of the strike about whether al-Libi was in fact a target.

According to NBC News, if al-Libi is dead, "it would be another blow to al-Qaida in Pakistan, the so-called al-Qaida Central. The Libyan, believed to be 39 years old, is one of the most influential propagandists in al-Qaida and one of its best known leaders. ... [He] draws much of his credibility from having escaped a U.S. military prison at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan on the night of July 10, 2005. He subsequently appeared in more than 30 videos produced by al Shahab, the al-Qaida media wing, and other militant sites. In December 2009, Pakistani officials erroneously reported he had been killed in a Predator strike, further enhancing his image."

As NPR's Dina Temple-Raston reported in May 2011, al-Libi was formerly a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, "so he is battle-tested."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.
Related Content
  • The strike, which killed three suspected militants on Sunday, was carried out despite the recent demand from Pakistan's parliament that such actions be suspended.
  • A year after the Navy SEAL operation in Abbottabad, Pakistan, that killed Osama bin Laden, the CIA is stepping up drone attacks in Yemen and has broadened its targeting of al-Qaida's arm there. It is clear that al-Qaida isn't dead yet, and counterterrorism officials say the group is diminished. But its ideology, a kind of al-Qaida-ism, will take longer to die.
  • The former al-Qaida leader was planning attacks throughout his years in Pakistan, which included a wish to kill President Obama. But the plots were far beyond the capability of his weakened organization. And bin Laden was upset with the actions of affiliated groups he couldn't control.
  • Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian eye doctor who long served as Osama bin Laden's deputy, has been officially chosen as al-Qaida's new leader. Zawahiri was already the group's operational commander and main spokesman, and he was widely expected to succeed Osama bin Laden. Some al-Qaida members have complained that Zawahiri is uninspiring and divisive as a leader, and terrorism experts say he will need to demonstrate that he can direct the terror network as skillfully as bin Laden did.