Atiya Abd al-Rahman (State Department)A senior al Qaeda operations commander, Atiyah abd al-Rahman, has been killed in Pakistan, the Obama administration said Saturday.
"It's been confirmed that al Qaeda's number two, Atiyah abd al-Rahman, was killed earlier this week in Waziristan, Pakistan," a senior U.S. official told the Envoy Saturday by email, describing Atiyah's death as "a tremendous loss for al Qaeda, because [Osama bin Laden's successor Ayman al-] Zawahiri was relying heavily on him to help guide and run the organization, especially since Bin Laden's death."
According to the senior U.S. official, Atiya, who was born in Misrata, Libya in 1970, was killed on Aug. 22. The Associated Press reported that Atiyah was killed in a U.S. drone strike that occurred in Waziristan on Aug. 22, although U.S. officials would not confirm how he was killed.
American officials described Atiyah Saturday as the "number 2" official in al Qaeda after the killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. Navy Seals in Pakistan in May.
However, Washington Post intelligence columnist David Ignatius, writing in a column Aug. 23--one day after the Aug. 22 strike that killed Atiyah, but several days before U.S. officials confirmed the news--said that U.S. officials believe, based on documents seized at bin Laden's compound, that Atiyah may effectively be more important than Zawahiri. "Indeed, because the Libyan-born Atiyah . . . was the boss's key link with the outside, officials see him as more important than bin Laden's nominal successor," Ignatius wrote.Read More »from Top Al Qaeda ops chief killed in Pakistan, US says