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December 3, 2005

By the numbers

Excellent news:

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - The operational commander of al-Qaida and possibly the No. 3 official in the terrorist organization, Hamza Rabia, was killed early Thursday morning by a CIA missile attack on a safehouse in Pakistan, officials told NBC News.
Pakistan’s president later confirmed the militant leader’s death.
“Yes indeed, 200 percent. I think he was killed the day before yesterday if I’m not wrong,” President Pervez Musharraf told reporters as he arrived in Kuwait on an official visit on Saturday.

But not exactly new news. As this and other blogs have pointed out before, Al Qaeda seems to have an awful lot of #3s—and it’s not short of #2s either. It’s hard to disagree with counterterrorism analyst Evan Kohlmann, commenting on the death of Al Qaeda “#2” Abu Azzam in September:

“If I had a nickel for every No. 2 and No. 3 they’ve arrested or killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, I’d be a millionaire,” says Kohlmann, a New York-based analyst who tracks the Iraq insurgency and who first expressed skepticism about the Azzam claims in a posting on The Counterterrorism Blog (counterterror.typepad.com). While agreeing that Azzam—also known as Abdullah Najim Abdullah Mohamed al-Jawari—may have been an important figure, “this guy was not the deputy commander of Al Qaeda,” says Kohlmann.

Which is why Rabia’s alleged rank should also be taken with a grain of salt.

Posted by Stephen at 2:02 PM in Terrorism | War | Permalink | TrackBack (1)

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» "200 Percent Confirmed" from Late Final
There doesn't seem to be an awful lot of job security in the Number 3 position in Al Qaeda. Mohammed Atef: Dead. Khalid Sheik Mohammed: Caught. Abu Faraj Farj al Liby: Caught. Hamza Rabia: Smithereens. The death of Rabia this... [Read More]

Tracked on December 3, 2005 2:33 PM