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Update: Drone Strike Killed Al-Qaida's 'Leading Propagandist,' Official Says

Abu Yahya al-Libi in an October 2011 video obtained by the watchdog group IntelCenter.
AFP/Getty Images
Abu Yahya al-Libi in an October 2011 video obtained by the watchdog group IntelCenter.

The man described as al-Qaida's "leading propagandist" and the No. 2 leader in that terrorist organization was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan on Monday, NPR, CNN and The Associated Press say they've been told by "a U.S. official."

That word came around 1:40 p.m. ET.

Our original post. Reports: Drone Strike Targeted Al-Qaida's 'Leading Propagandist'

"Pakistani intelligence officials say they have evidence al-Qaida's second in command was in a house hit by a U.S. drone strike but they do not know whether he was killed," The Associated Press is reporting.

CBS News says "U.S. officials confirm" that the strike was aimed at al-Qaida's "leading propagandist," Abu Yahya al-Libi. Those officials could not, however, say whether he was killed or injured.

NPR has not independently heard from two or more officials with knowledge of the strike about whether al-Libi was in fact a target.

According to NBC News, if al-Libi is dead, "it would be another blow to al-Qaida in Pakistan, the so-called al-Qaida Central. The Libyan, believed to be 39 years old, is one of the most influential propagandists in al-Qaida and one of its best known leaders. ... [He] draws much of his credibility from having escaped a U.S. military prison at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan on the night of July 10, 2005. He subsequently appeared in more than 30 videos produced by al Shahab, the al-Qaida media wing, and other militant sites. In December 2009, Pakistani officials erroneously reported he had been killed in a Predator strike, further enhancing his image."

As NPR's Dina Temple-Raston reported in May 2011, al-Libi was formerly a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, "so he is battle-tested."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.

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