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

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.

I Can’t Think Of A Catchy Title

I suppose the best way to describe myself would be to say that I have a problem with authority. I’ve always disliked when people told me what to do, even as a young child, and I’ve always preferred to find my own path through life and make my own decisions, even if it occasionally went against the conventional wisdom and sometimes worked to my short-term disadvantage. My dad said I inherited it from him, but that I’ve taken it to a whole new level. When I was young I wanted to be a journalist, until I got to college and realized that journalism was less about the search for objective truth than it was about writing the stories that best suited your employer’s interests, whether they were true or not (which didn’t sit well with me at all). So I drifted aimlessly through a couple of years of college as an indifferent (often drunk) student, unsure of what to do with myself until one of my fraternity brothers gave me a copy of “The Fountainhead” and I got hooked on the ideas that success and a refusal to conform to societal standards were not mutally exclusive, and that the greatest evil in the world was society and government’s failure to recognize or accept individuality and individual freedom as a strength, not a weakness. So I threw myself into studying politics and history, worked in a few political campaigns after college, had some success, and thought about doing a career in politics until I realized that most of the people I knew who had never had a career outside of politics had no comprehension of how the real world actually worked and tended to make a lot of bad, self-absorbed decisions that rarely helped the people they claimed to be representing.

That didn’t sit well with me either, so I decided to put any thoughts of going into politics on hold until I’d actually had a life and possibly a real career, and I spent the next couple of years drifting between a series of random yet educational jobs (debt collector, deliveryman, computer salesman, repo man, dairy worker) that taught me the value of hard work, personal responsibility and the financial benefits of dining at Taco John’s on Tuesday nights (2 tacos for a buck) when money got tight.

After awhile, however, the desire to see the world (and the need for a more consistent and slightly larger paycheck) convinced me to join the Army, where I spent ten years traveling around the world on the government dime working as an intelligence analyst. I generally enjoyed my time in the military, despite the aforementioned problem with authority (which wasn’t as much of an issue in the military as many people might think it would be), and I got to see that the decisions our political leaders make were sometimes frivolous, often ill-informed, and always had unforeseen repercussions down the road…especially on the soldiers tasked with implementing those decisions. I was fortunate enough to spend most of my 10 years in the military doing jobs I enjoyed, traveling to countries that I always wanted to see (Scotland is the greatest place in the world to hang out, Afghanistan is very underrated) and working with people I liked and respected, until I finally decided that at 35 it was time to move into a job where I didn’t have the threat of relocation lying over my head every two or three years, where I didn’t have to worry about my friends being blown up, and where I didn’t have to work in any capacity for George W. Bush.

I work now for a financial company in Kansas where I’m responsible for overseeing, pricing and maintaining farms, commercial and residential properties, mineral assets, insurance policies, annuities, etc. In my spare time I like to read books on economics, history, and politics (I’m preparing to tackle Murray Rothbard’s “Man, Economy & State” and Von Mises’ “Human Action”…should take me about a year at the rate I’m currently finishing books), watch movies, and destroy posers on “Halo 3″ (where I’m signed in under “UCrawford” for anyone interested in taking a shot at me some time). I used to play rugby until age, inconsistent conditioning, and a string of gradually worsening injuries finally convinced me to quit. I’m a rabid fan of the Kansas Jayhawks in general and their basketball and football programs in particular and I’m also a devoted fan of the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals. I’m also fond of going online and debating/picking fights with people on the merits of the philosophy of individual freedom…sometimes to the point of being an asshole (but hopefully a reasonably well-informed asshole). I’ve been a big fan of The Liberty Papers ever since finding it online, I respect the body of work they’ve put out, and I’m honored that Brad Warbiany invited me to join his jolly band of freedom fighters. So cheers, Brad, and to everyone else I look forward to reaching consensus or locking horns with you in the near future.

  • 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.

  • Pingback: Errata: Fundamental « his vorpal sword()