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 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.