Ayman al-Zawahiri Killed in Predator Strike?
Al Qaeda number 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri was severely wounded in a US Predator strike earlier this week, CBS is reporting.
Ayman al-Zawahiri – the second most powerful leader in al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden’s No. 2 – may be critically wounded and possibly dead, CBS News chief foreign affairs correspondent Lara Logan reports exclusively.
CBS News has obtained a copy of an intercepted letter from sources in Pakistan, which urgently requests a doctor to treat al-Zawahiri. He’s believed to be somewhere in Pakistan’s remote tribal areas of Pakistan. The letter refers to Sheikh Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri by name – and says that he is in “severe pain” and his “injuries are infected.”
It is reportedly written by local Taliban leader, Baitullah Mehsud, whose signature and seal are visible on the letter. The Taliban logo and the Mehsud’s seal have been confirmed by experts as legitimate.
The letter is dated July 29 – one day after a U.S. air strike that killed al Qaeda weapons expert Abu Khabab al-Masri, and five other Arabs in South Waziristan.
U.S. authorities have said they do not have information that al-Zawahiri was present during Monday’s strike, or that he was injured. However, a counter-intelligence expert and other U.S. officials confirmed to CBS News that the U.S. is looking into reports that al-Zawahiri is dead.
One would imagine. Given the number of false reports of successful strikes on key al Qaeda leaders, skepticism is of course warranted. Bill Roggio thinks we should be especially dubious of this report given its Pakistani origins and the fact that al Qaeda hasn’t issued a martyrdom report.
Even if Zawahiri’s death is verified, it’s unlikely to have much lasting impact. Al Qaeda is a brand name as much as it is a traditional terrorist group at this stage and there are more than enough people who can plan attacks on soft targets.
Still, it would be nice to see this guy pay for his crimes.