Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, a Libyan who had taken over as Al Qaeda’s top operational planner and second in command within the past year, was reportedly killed on August 22 by a drone operated by the CIA, the New York Times is reporting. American and Pakistani officials are both reporting his death, which further damages the terrorism network that was significantly weakened after Osama bin Laden’s death in May.
Rahman’s death is considered to be significant because the network hoped he would assume greater control after Bin Laden’s death. Rahman became Al Qaeda’s second in command when Ayman al-Zawahri succeeded Bin Laden. Files recovered at Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan revealed that he frequently communicated with Rahman. Bin Laden relied on Rahman to bring his messages to other Al Qaeda leaders and to make sure that his recorded communications were broadcast.
Few details about Rahman’s death and the strike that killed him have been revealed. The CIA only told Pakistan’s government that Rahman had been the target of the strike only after it confirmed he had been killed.
Even with Rahman’s death, many intelligence analysts feel the network won’t come to end. They point to the fact that the network built by Bin Laden has shown an ability to regenerate.
Written by: Karen Benardello