Big: Al Qaeda’s new number two killed in Pakistan

posted at 4:00 pm on August 27, 2011 by Allahpundit

A few months ago he was the operational chief, a.k.a. the number three, which means his life expectancy was roughly the same as one of Spinal Tap’s drummers. Then Bin Laden took a bullet in the face and he moved up to number two, which worked out okay for the guy who previously held that rank. Oh well. Things change.

He’s not a glamour-puss like Zawahiri so you may not know the name, but this guy is a very big deal. Or rather, was:

A U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to summarize the government’s intelligence on [Atiyah Abd] al-Rahman, said al-Rahman’s death will make it harder for Zawahiri to oversee what is considered an increasingly weakened organization.

“Zawahiri needed Atiyah’s experience and connections to help manage al-Qaida,” the official said.

Al-Rahman was killed Aug. 22 in the lawless Pakistani tribal region of Waziristan, according to a senior administration who also 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.

Here’s an account of the August 22 drone strike from the Pakistani newspaper Dawn. Two missiles were fired, one hitting a car carrying at least four suspected jihadis and the other hitting a house. Bill Roggio noted at the time that the site of the strike is in the Mir Ali area of Waziristan, which is basically Thunderdome for aspiring terrorists. The Taliban and the Haqqani network operate there, and according to some jihadi sources, hundreds upon hundreds of suicide bombers have trained at local camps. Roggio also calls it “a known hub for al Qaeda’s military and external operations councils,” which would explain Rahman’s presence and why a drone strike would be necessary rather than a special ops raid a la Osama. Not only is the target moving around frequently, but in a place crawling with heavily armed mujahedeen, things could get hairy quickly for a small band of U.S. troops who ended up trapped there.

So who was he? He was someone who wanted to kill you and had been working hard for ages to figure out how:

A U.S. official told CBS News al-Rahman spoke on behalf of both Osama bin Laden and Ayman Mohammed Rabie al-Zawahiri, and was the one affiliates “knew and trusted.”

“There’s no question this is a major blow to al Qaeda,” the official told CBS News Homeland Security correspondent Bob Orr. “Atiyah was at the top of al Qaeda’s trusted core. He ran daily operations for the group since Shaykh Sa’id al-Masri was killed last year, and has been Zawahiri’s second-in-command since Bin Laden’s death in May.”

“He planned the details of al Qaeda operations and its propaganda,” the official told CBS News. “His combination of background, experience, and abilities are unique in al Qaeda – without question, they will not be easily replaced.

Brian Fishman of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point calls Rahman the communications glue of the organization and says that losing him will damage AQ as much as losing Bin Laden did. If you doubt him, take 30 seconds to re-read this post from last month. Rahman was so important that Bin Laden appointed him as the group’s official emissary in Iran, which allowed him to arrange transit through the country for AQ operatives. Rahman was also Bin Laden’s point man on a plot to attack the United States on the anniversary of 9/11 this year, which is all you need to know about how far his ambitions extended. This was not a guy who operated locally only, against U.S. troops in Afghanistan. He was thinking big. And judging by how frequently he communicated with Osama, he was clearly someone for whom the group had high hopes. Says Steve Hayes at the Standard, “If Atiyah Rahman is indeed dead, as it appears, [it's] hard to overstate how significant a blow that is for AQ. And win for us.” Indeed.

Three things to watch going forward. One: What happens now to Al Qaeda’s relationship with Iran? The Iranian leadership trusted Rahman enough to deal with him; that may not be true of the next emissary. Two: How exactly did we find this guy? It’d be superb if something recovered by the SEALs from Bin Laden’s compound led us to him, but no one’s confirming that — yet. Three: How long now before we find Zawahiri? Rahman must have been in touch with him, if only because Zawahiri would want to leverage Rahman’s relationships with the rank and file to shore up his own credibility as the new number one. (Zawahiri is famously disliked by many jihadis and can’t rule by charisma the way Bin Laden could. He needs institutional support among the top players to keep a grip on the group.) If we got a hot tip on where to find Rahman, the tipster might very well have a hot tip on where to find the new top dog too. Here’s hoping.

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Smirk? Gone.

Ward Cleaver on August 27, 2011 at 4:03 PM

I heard he was on a plane with Qaddafi and Mugabi.

CW on August 27, 2011 at 4:04 PM

See this is what taking out the leaders does. They dont trust outsiders and its like a mafia crime family. The upper levels in the group tightly control things and their underlings wont know what operations or plans that were ready to be place in motion.

Decapitating leadership makes organizing operations much harder.

William Amos on August 27, 2011 at 4:06 PM

Obama hates brown people.

txag92 on August 27, 2011 at 4:07 PM

Number 2′s don’t last long do they.

JellyToast on August 27, 2011 at 4:08 PM

his life expectancy was roughly the same as one of Spinal Tap’s drummers

Brilliant. If we could only find a way to get these vermin to spontaneously combust.

John the Libertarian on August 27, 2011 at 4:08 PM

AMF!

Nikkia2112 on August 27, 2011 at 4:09 PM

Number 2′s don’t last long do they.

JellyToast on August 27, 2011 at 4:08 PM

Not if they are turds.

txag92 on August 27, 2011 at 4:11 PM

Enjoy Hell, Rahmanoodle. Say hello to Osama and the boys for us.

RebeccaH on August 27, 2011 at 4:13 PM

I understand Goat Farm had just increased the group coverage premium for Life Insurance for Al Qaeda.

bayview on August 27, 2011 at 4:13 PM

Wait I thought killing terrorists just created more terrorists.

CW on August 27, 2011 at 4:14 PM

May the virgins ants devour him.

Schadenfreude on August 27, 2011 at 4:15 PM

We killed the noodle guy? NOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooo!

clement on August 27, 2011 at 4:17 PM

If only they’d also get Zawahiri, Mullah Mohammad Omar, and John Walker Lindh.

Schadenfreude on August 27, 2011 at 4:18 PM

This is all good and well, but islamic fundamentalism doesn’t need al qaeda to function in the west. The problem is not al qaeda. You could kill them all today, and tomorrow there would be carbon copies to replace them. As we type, a 12 year-old is manning a fruit stand over there, who, in a few years, will be another al qaeda consiglieri. By rights, we need to drone attack the fruit stand. So you can never get rid of al qaeda. And even if you did, al qaeda is already here. They are born here. Educated here. Raised here. And the ones here are the ones dangerous to us.

keep the change on August 27, 2011 at 4:18 PM

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.

Sure, chances are he was oversexed by a goat.

Schadenfreude on August 27, 2011 at 4:21 PM

To quote Pat Travers:

“Boom boom, out go the lights”.

BallisticBob on August 27, 2011 at 4:21 PM

I hope the SEAL who just died gets to pour gasoline over his head as he burns in hell.

Uncle Sams Nephew on August 27, 2011 at 4:22 PM

I only hope it was really a painful death, you gravy sucking pig.

HomeoftheBrave on August 27, 2011 at 4:27 PM

We already have John Walker Lindh – he’s in Colorado or Indiana right now.

I think you mean Adam Gadahn, Al Qaeda’s American-born and raised spokesman. He’s been remarkably silent lately. Oh, if only we could get him, preferably alive.

KillerKane on August 27, 2011 at 4:29 PM

Leftist “Logic” 101

Pouring water in Islamic Terrorists’ noses = Torture

Vaporizing Islamic Terrorists = Justice

Del Dolemonte on August 27, 2011 at 4:33 PM

We have a job opening..don’t get me wrong..this is about the only thing obama has done that I approve of..but also these are the only jobs that Obama is creating

galtg on August 27, 2011 at 4:35 PM

SPIKE the FOOTBALL with me AMERICA

swimcoachmike on August 27, 2011 at 4:37 PM

Looks like little Bammie’s election-time Hollywood movie might be turning into a series.

slickwillie2001 on August 27, 2011 at 4:43 PM

I for one will not miss him.This should rate a Bronze Star for the controller.

docflash on August 27, 2011 at 4:47 PM

I have to give Obama some credit. He really has excelled at killing Muslims. I’m glad he’s good at SOMETHING…

joejm65 on August 27, 2011 at 4:50 PM

Shouldn’t we be taking a much harder line with the Paki government?
I say we go in, take control of the nukes and clean up the place.

bridgetown on August 27, 2011 at 4:52 PM

And here everybody thought Zero was on vacation when he was really killing another terrorist honcho.

BigWyo on August 27, 2011 at 5:00 PM

Help Wanted: Executive position. Short term eomployment only…

Hog Wild on August 27, 2011 at 5:09 PM

Ta ta.

Mason on August 27, 2011 at 5:12 PM

Good. Let’s hope we can go through as many Number Twos as Patrick McGoohan.

Chickyraptor on August 27, 2011 at 5:13 PM

The official would not say how al-Rahman was killed.

I hope it hurt. Enjoy your 72 virgin pigs in hell, azzwipe.

RadClown on August 27, 2011 at 5:13 PM

Shouldn’t we be taking a much harder line with the Paki government?
I say we go in, take control of the nukes and clean up the place.

bridgetown on August 27, 2011 at 4:52 PM

With no media or consequenses!

heshtesh on August 27, 2011 at 5:13 PM

Wow….a 50 point mole! Couple that with the 100 point mole from a few months back and the extended plays and free rounds will last for years! Beats tackling Islam via Saudi Arabia and Iran which would pull the power chords on all the Whack-a-Mole games.

BL@KBIRD on August 27, 2011 at 5:15 PM

And here I thought Obama was at Hurricane Central. Glad to know he was in Pahkeestaan taking care of guy just like OBL.

RADIOONE on August 27, 2011 at 5:19 PM

How exactly did we find this guy? It’d be superb if something recovered by the SEALs from Bin Laden’s compound led us to him, but no one’s confirming that — yet.

That should not be released to the public at this time. This is need to know information during a time of war. The last thing I want to see is this info on the front page of the NY Times.

simkeith on August 27, 2011 at 5:23 PM

Kudos to the United States military. Thank goodness somebody knows how to work around the administration.

Limerick on August 27, 2011 at 5:43 PM

No. 2 now gets to screw 72 virginal porcupines in Gehenna.

Forever.

profitsbeard on August 27, 2011 at 5:44 PM

Awwwwwww…lookie…another terrorist at room temperature.

Color me unsympathetic;)

Gothguy on August 27, 2011 at 5:46 PM

NEXT!!!!!!

RealMc on August 27, 2011 at 5:53 PM

Vaporizing Islamic Terrorists = Justice

Del Dolemonte on August 27, 2011 at 4:33 PM

Only under a leftie president. Otherwise he’d be “Adolf Hitler”.

Schadenfreude on August 27, 2011 at 5:57 PM

Oh, forgot…if he’s a leftie he’s a grand hero for “Leading from Behind”.

Schadenfreude on August 27, 2011 at 5:58 PM

I say we go in, take control of the nukes and clean up the place.

bridgetown

FIFY

honsy on August 27, 2011 at 6:03 PM

Hey, whaddya know.

It turns out military action, staying the course, and blowing the bad guys up is an effective strategy.

Under Bush this was a warmongering, war criminal thing. Under Obama? He’s a genius! Best military mind since Patton!

amerpundit on August 27, 2011 at 6:18 PM

This would be like saying they killed Joe Biden, and they claimed victory over the US. This by itself means little.

faraway on August 27, 2011 at 6:25 PM

Employment insurance premiums must be sky high for this crew.

michaelo on August 27, 2011 at 8:06 PM

Only under a leftie president. Otherwise he’d be “Adolf Hitler”.

Schadenfreude on August 27, 2011 at 5:57 PM

Ain’t that a fact!

Drained Brain on August 27, 2011 at 8:30 PM

whoops I thought that was Crowder.

Ted Torgerson on August 27, 2011 at 8:31 PM

Wonder how many applications they’ll get for that position?

sdd on August 27, 2011 at 8:34 PM

The muj’s are falling like shoothouse targets.

bloviator on August 27, 2011 at 9:06 PM

Great work!! Every oneof these AQ leaders dead is a wonderful thing.

Minorcan Maven on August 27, 2011 at 9:30 PM

Number 2′s don’t last long do they.

JellyToast on August 27, 2011 at 4:08 PM

yeah, just ask Sonny Corleone about that.

44Magnum on August 27, 2011 at 10:02 PM

We’re gonna name our next kid DroneStrike.

Akzed on August 27, 2011 at 10:13 PM

He was a Libyan Now the rebels don’t have a leader

LeeSeneca on August 27, 2011 at 11:20 PM

Will Al Qaeda ever run out of number two?

Mojave Mark on August 28, 2011 at 12:55 AM

This is the comment I left on the NYT website for this article:

Yeah, that’s about right.

No “trial”. No “due process”. Are we at war with Pakistan? How about the civilians that might have been killed?

They do tend to surround themselves with locals who are just in their camps for the money. Just read the latest article in Esquire about the “innocents” at Gitmo. They state they join the camps to help provide food and services kinda’ like “the help”.

I’m sure they die in these missile strikes. But if we simply arrest them and hold them in Gitmo, they are fodder for a heartbreaking article from the NYT or Esquire about the lamentations of day to day life in Gitmo with no end in site and sub-par legal representation.

But the left has no problem with just turning them into goo with a drone missile strike.

How many were maimed in this strike? Injured? No mention of them.

I get it now. The left is cool with just striking from a far and killing with abandon and then protesting the existence of LIVING folks held in Gitmo.

I got it now. Thanks for the clarification you liberal hypocrites.

Opposite Day on August 28, 2011 at 2:27 AM

He’s firewood… smells like Muslim smoke.

leftnomore on August 28, 2011 at 2:44 AM

Adam Gadahn is the terrorist I want to see on trial in the USA, for treason. A Public hanging might dissuade other US citizens from joining the Jihad.

IowaWoman on August 28, 2011 at 7:21 AM