Atiyah’s death a big blow to Al Qaeda: US
WASHINGTON (PAN): The death of Al Qaeda number two Atiyah abd al-Rahman is a major blow to the terrorist outfit and a tough job for its leaders to replace, American counter-terrorism officials said Monday.
Atiyah was killed in a US drone attack in Waziristan area of Pakistan on August 22.
“There’s no question this is a major blow to al Qaeda. Atiyah was at the top of al Qaeda’s trusted core. He ran daily operations for the group since Shaykh Sa’id al-Masri was killed last year, and has been Zawahiri’s second-in-command since Bin Laden’s death in May,” a US counter-terrorism official told Pajhwok Afghan News.
“He planned the details of al Qaeda operations and its propaganda. His combination of background, experience, and abilities are unique in al Qaeda—without question, they will not be easily replaced,” said the official, who requested anonymity.
Atiyah, a Libyan national, was killed by a US drone strike in the Waziristan area of Pakistan on August 22. Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri had taken over as the Al Qaeda leader after Osama bin Laden was killed by US forces in a special operation in Abbottabad area of Pakistan on May 2.
“Zawahiri needed Atiyah’s experience and connections to help manage al Qaeda. Now it will be even harder for him to consolidate control,” the official said. Atiyah was the one affiliates he knew and trusted, and he spoke on behalf of both Osama bin Laden and Zawahiri, the official added.
“The latest death of Atiyah abd al-Rahman, who have grown in prominence inside Al Qaeda in recent years is a significant blow to the group,” the Pentagon spokesman, George Little said.
However, he said Al Qaeda in Pakistan remains the nerve center of the organization. “Al Qaeda in Pakistan clearly remains a nerve center of the organization, remains dangerous. They have suffered significant losses in recent years,” he said.
Brian Fishman, a Counterterrorism Research Fellow at the New America Foundation, said if confirmed, will hasten the demise of al-Qaeda as a functional covert network. “Although one must assume Atiyah prepared for his death, his contacts must nevertheless now wonder what U.S. intelligence personnel knew his activities and communications that might now put them at risk,” he said.
Lisa Curtis of The Heritage Foundation said his elimination—a central operational planner for the organization—is another sign that al-Qaeda is weakening. He had directed American terrorist Bryant Neal Vinas, who helped al-Qaeda with a plot to bomb the New York City subway in 2009, she said.
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