Key al Qaeda Operative Killed in Pakistan

Haithem al-Yemeni, the man in line to replace Abu Faraj al-Libbi as al Qaeda’s global operations chief, was killed by a Predator attack in Pakistan earlier this week.
Sources: Key al Qaeda operative killed (CNN)

A key al Qaeda operative was killed earlier this week in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region, two knowledgeable sources told CNN Friday. They said a CIA-operated Predator drone aircraft fired a missile, killing Haithem al-Yemeni, whom U.S. intelligence had been tracking for some time. There had been hope he might lead authorities to Osama bin Laden or other top al Qaeda leaders, the sources said.

ABC News first reported the Predator attack, saying it happened in Pakistan near the Afghan border. Pakistan Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad told CNN al-Yemeni was not killed in Pakistan. Both sources declined to be further identified due to the sensitivity of the matter. One pointed out the report could create political problems for the Pakistani government, which has been quietly cooperating with U.S. efforts to round up or kill al Qaeda operatives.

ABC News reported al-Yemeni was in line to replace Abu Faraj al-Libbi as al Qaeda’s global operations chief. Al-Libbi, the No. 3 man in bin Laden’s terror network, was captured by Pakistani authorities last week in the frontier along the border with Afghanistan.

Like Hamas chief, this job is going to be increasingly hard to fill given that its occupants seem to wind up dead or captured in short order.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.