Washington: Al Qaeda's second-in-command Abu Yahya al-Libi has died in a US drone strike, the White House confirmed on Tuesday, with a top Obama aide terming it as a major blow to the terrorist outfit.
"Al-Libi is dead," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney announced at his daily news conference. However, Carney refused to discuss how Libi's life came to an end and the location of his death.
"I can tell you that our intelligence community has intelligence that leads them to believe that al Qaeda's number two leader is dead," Carney said amidst news reports that al-Libi died in a US drone strike in Pakistan.
Abu Yahya al-Libi, considered the most-prominent figure in al Qaeda after Zawahiri, carried a reward of $1 million on his head.
"Removing leaders like al-Libi from the top of al Qaeda is part of the effort of the Obama administration to defeat and dismantle the terror network," Carney said.
49-year-old Libi, considered the most-prominent figure in al Qaeda after Ayman al-Zawahiri, carried a reward of $1 million on his head. Carney said Al-Libi was very much an operational leader, a general manager of the organisation and his absence would be a "job hard to fill".
"It is a job that is hard to fill. There may not be ... the duration of late that people have held that job... there could be a lot of candidates hoping to fill. So the point is that removing leaders from the very top of al Qaeda is part of an ongoing effort to ultimately disrupt and defeat it," he said.
The secretary added: "I can't get into details about how his death was brought about, but I can tell you that he served as al Qaeda's general manager, responsible for overseeing the group's day-to-day operations in the tribal areas of Pakistan, and he managed outreach to al Qaeda's regional affiliates."
Carney said the terrorist outfit has seen degradation in the recent years. "His (Al-Libi) death is part of the degradation that has been taking place to core al Qaeda during the past several years, and that degradation has depleted the ranks to such an extent that there is now no clear successor to take on the breadth of his responsibilities, and that puts additional pressure on al Qaeda's post-bin Laden leader, Zawahiri, to try to manage the group in an effective way," he said.
"Al-Libi's death is a major blow to core al Qaeda, removing the number two leader, for the second time in less than a year, and further damaging the group's morale and cohesion and bringing it closer to its ultimate demise than ever before," Carney said.
"And that represents, in the wake of the death of Osama bin Laden, another serious blow to core al Qaeda in what is an ongoing effort to disrupt, dismantle and ultimately defeat a foe that brought great terror and death to the United States on September 11, 2001 and that has perpetrated acts of terrorism against innocent civilians around the globe," Carney added.