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US says Al Qaeda's number two killed in Pakistan

Atiyah Abd al-Rahman was a close confidante of Osama bin Laden prior to the former leader’s death in May.

Atiyah Abd al-Rahman
Atiyah Abd al-Rahman

AL QAEDA’S NUMBER two leader has been killed in Pakistan, according to a senior White House official.

Libyan-born Atiyah Abd al-Rahman was a leading member of the terrorist cell whose long time leader Osama bin Laden was killed in a US raid on his compound in Pakistan in May of this year.

The latest killing is considered another big blow to the terrorist group.

Al-Rahman was killed on 22 August in the lawless Pakistani tribal region of Waziristan, according to the official said, who insisted on anonymity to discuss intelligence issues.

The official would not say how al-Rahman was killed. But his death came on the same day that a CIA drone strike was reported in Waziristan. Such strikes by unmanned aircraft are Washington’s weapon of choice for killing terrorists in the mountainous, hard-to-reach area along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

According to the Washington Post, Rahman joined Al Qaeda in the early 1990s and fought in Afghanistan.  He was a close confidante of bin Laden.

In 1993, he moved to Algeria where he served as a liaison between Al Qaeda and Algerian radicals fighting a civil war against the military government in the North African country.

However, it is reported that his presence was not welcomed by the Armed Islamic Group in the country who placed him under arrest and threatened him with execution.

He later escaped and took on a leadership role within Al Qaeda after the 9/11 terrorist attacks acting as the organisation’s emissary in Iran from his base in Waziristan.

A $1 million reward had been offered by the US for information regarding his whereabouts.

Al-Rahman rose to number two following bin Laden’s killing in May which saw Ayman al-Zawahri announced as the new head of the organisation in June.

- additional reporting from AP

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Hugh O'Connell

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