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January 31, 2008

Al-Qaeda’s “Number Three Man” Killed…Again

by UCrawford

I think this brings us up to seven or eight “number threes” killed in the al-Qaeda hierachy since 2001.  Must be a hell of a corporate flow chart they have.  I wonder what country the next guy will be situated in when our government decides to “promote” him.  Somehow I think it will end up being whatever country the president’s taking the most criticism on that particular day.

 Update:  According to the updated version of CNN’s story on the death of al-Qaeda “number three” Abu Laith al-Libi:

In October, the U.S. military’s anti-terror Combined Joint Task Force-82 announced rewards ranging from $20,000 to $200,000 for al-Libi and 11 other mid-level Taliban and al Qaeda leaders.  The military distributed posters and billboards with pictures and names of the insurgents around eastern Afghanistan.  Al-Libi and the others were described at the time by CJTF-82 spokesman Maj. Chris Belcher as “mid-level bad guys.” (emphasis mine)

Translation:  “Mid-level” is not generally a classification for a high-value target, which means there’s pretty much no difference between al-Qaeda’s recently deceased “number three man” and a couple dozen other schmucks running around out there on the AF/PAK border except that the military and the press happened to have a photo and a name for this guy.

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  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org Doug Mataconis

    Or maybe we keep killing the same guy over and over again.

    It’s not a War on Terror, its a war on zombies ;)

  • http://dangerouslyidealistic.blogspot.com/ UCrawford

    That would explain so much. :)

    Actually, every time one of these guys gets taken down I always remember a story a guy I was in Afghanistan with told me. He was in an ambush and he was the turret gunner in his vehicle. Once the initial panic of getting shot at wore off he swung his turret around in the direction of fire, located the probable gunman in a tree and capped him with a .50 caliber burst. He was very certain he got the right guy, but he said that he always had a lingering doubt in the back of his mind (and probably always will) that maybe he just killed some unlucky schmuck who just happened to be up in a tree grabbing some almonds because he was hungry.

    Fog of war and all that, I suppose, but we do end up killing the wrong person a lot more than is commonly known…sometimes because of legitimate human error, sometimes because of bad intelligence, sometimes just because of blatant stupidity (I saw that happen a couple of times). Most of the time when I hear about “al-Qaeda’s number three guy” I usually wonder just how relevant of a target he really was and just what we had on him or if we had any evidence at all because our human intel is often so shitty and scattershot, or if the government’s just attributing a false sense of importance to the guy because they’re desperate for anything that looks like a victory.

  • Northern Lights

    Hahaha. The media/government is acting like this is an important defeat for Al Queda, or like thie Laith Libby guy is important. He’s not. He’s just another low level terrorist. He’s not even on the FBI’s 20 most wanted list!!! I’ve never even heard of this guy before today, and in the news, they are saying he’s the 3rd most high ranking member in Al Queda??? What a farse! This is the government/media drumming up more fodder because they are making NO progress on the “war on terrorism” If you’re gonna lie, at least get your facts straight!!

  • http://dangerouslyidealistic.blogspot.com/ UCrawford

    Northern Light,

    He’s just another low level terrorist.

    Mid-level probably means he’s more of a facilitator or cell leader rather than just a common foot soldier, but no…he doesn’t appear to be anybody particularly important and I doubt his death will change much of anything. Everyone below the top two is pretty replaceable since it’s not really a hierarchical organization. The only thing that they appear to have on him is that they suspect he “might” have been involved with bombing Bagram Air Base during Cheney’s visit last February…him and a hundred other people I’m guessing. If they knew for certain I’m pretty sure they would have upgraded him.

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