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Al Qaeda confirms Abu Yahya al-Libi's death

12 September, 2012

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CAIRO: Al Qaeda confirmed on Tuesday that one of the group's most senior figures, veteran militant Abu Yahya al-Libi, had died in a US drone strike earlier this year.

The US government said in June it had killed Libi in Pakistan, dealing the biggest in a series of blows to the group since the raid that killed Osama bin Laden last year. "I proudly announce to the Muslim community and to the Mujahideen, the news of the martyrdom of the lion of Libya Sheikh Hassan Muhammed Qaed," al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri said in a video released on websites, referring to Libi by his birth name.

Zawahiri's statement was the first acknowledgement by al Qaeda that Libi had died.

Recently released letters written by bin Laden and captured during the US raid in which he was killed show Libi was one of a handful of al Qaeda operatives who bin Laden relied on to promote the group's case to a worldwide audience of militants, in particular to the young.

A cleric, Libi escaped a high security US prison in Afghanistan in 2005. On at least one previous occasion he was wrongly reported to have been killed in a US drone strike. The White House said in June it would be hard for the group to find someone of similar stature to replace him.

Zawahiri's posting said the recording was made during the month of Ramazan, which ran from mid-July to mid-August, but that it was released to coincide with the anniversary of the September 11 attacks of 2001. "This liar is trying to fool Americans into believing that he will defeat al Qaeda by killing this person or than person," he said, referring to US President Barack Obama. "But he escapes from the fact that he was defeated in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Zawahiri urged Muslims and particularly Libyans to take revenge for the killing of Libi. "His blood urges you and incites you to fight and kill the crusaders," he said.


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