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Al-Qaida's No. 2 Reported Killed By U.S. In Pakistan

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U.S. Officials say that Atiyah al-Rahman, al-Qaida’s second-in-command, was killed last week in Waziristan, Pakistan, in a series of CIA drone strikes.

Officials thought they had killed Rahman in a drone strike last year, only to have him reappear months later. But as NPR’s Dina Temple-Raston reports, this time officials seem convinced they got their man.

Rahman is more the just al-Qaida’s number two, he was Osama bin Laden’s liaison to other al-Qaida leaders and the group’s affiliates. He was also in charge of getting bin Laden’s audio tapes and videos out to media outlets.

He took on the number two job just months ago, after Ayman al-Zawahiri succeeded bin Laden as the leader of al-Qaida’s core operation.

A Libyan national, al-Rahman never had the worldwide name recognition of bin Laden or al-Zawahiri. But al-Rahman was regarded as an instrumental figure in the terrorist organization, trusted by bin Laden to oversee al-Qaida’s daily operations.

When the SEALs raided bin Laden’s compound, they found evidence of al-Rahman’s deep involvement in running al-Qaida. Since the raid, the Obama administration has been unusually frank in its assessment that al-Qaida is on the ropes, its leadership in disarray. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said last month that al-Qaida’s defeat was within reach if the U.S. could mount a string of successful attacks.

“Now is the moment, following what happened with bin Laden, to put maximum pressure on them,” Panetta said, “because I do believe that if we continue this effort we can really cripple al-Qaida as a major threat.”

If Rahman is dead, officials say it is another terrible blow to al-Qaida.

NPR’s Dina Temple-Raston contributed to this report that contains material from the Associated Press.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit


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