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Tilting at Windmills

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January 31, 2008

ANOTHER AL QAEDA NO. 3.... Stop me if you've heard this one: al Qaeda's #3 man has been killed.

A senior al Qaeda terrorist who allegedly plotted and carried out attacks against U.S. and coalition forces was killed in Pakistan, a knowledgeable Western official and a military source told CNN Thursday.

He was identified as Abu Laith al-Libi, 41, who was on the military's most wanted list.

Al-Libi was thought to have been involved in the February 2007 bombing at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan while Vice President Dick Cheney was visiting.

The knowledgeable Western official said al-Libi was "not far below the importance of the top two al Qaeda leaders" -- Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri.

CNN Middle East analyst Octavia Nasr called al-Libi the third-ranking terrorist in al Qaeda and fourth in the world.

This is certainly welcome news. I'm curious, though, if anyone has a list of al Qaeda #3s who've been captured or killed recently. I was keeping a list for a while, and I think al-Libi is the seventh, following Hamza Rabia, Abu Faraj al-Libbi, Saif al-Adel, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Mohammed Sheikh Mohammed, and a senior operational leader identified in court documents as "C-2."

You'd think, after a while, al Qaeda's #4 guys would stop seeking promotions.

Steve Benen 5:35 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (58)

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Comments

Freedumb™ just went number threes again.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on January 31, 2008 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

Again? I bet we've probably also killed threefold more al Qa'eda members than there were originally.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 31, 2008 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

Being number 3 in Al Queda is like being a drummer in a lot of bands--they keep on O'D 'ing but there's always another.

Posted by: Dr WU-the last of the big time thinkers on January 31, 2008 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

Seems like we should've made a deck of cards with their faces on it.

Oh yeah, we did that after invading Iraq.

Maybe Al Qaeda are the jokers.

Last time I checked, there are only 2 jokers in a deck of cards. We might have gotten most of the Iraqi 52 but the jokers are still wild!

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on January 31, 2008 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

Worst job turnover since The Island's "Number Two."

Always a new fucking "Number Two."
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on January 31, 2008 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

It's the non-conference opponents, Steve.

al-Libi's strength-of-schedule was second only to Notre Dame's last year.

Damn BCS.

Posted by: Clap_Louder on January 31, 2008 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK
CNN Middle East analyst Octavia Nasr called al-Libi the third-ranking terrorist in al Qaeda and fourth in the world.

Aside from the routine jokes about the al-Qaeda #3 thing, what is that supposed to mean? All the terrorist organizations in the world have a unified command structure, and the three of the top four slots are (or were, prior to this guy getting killed) filled by al-Qaeda members?


Posted by: cmdicely on January 31, 2008 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

Who is the freelancer?

Posted by: corpus juris on January 31, 2008 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

After al-Libi's failure at Bagram Air Base, he should have been demoted.

Posted by: Brojo on January 31, 2008 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

Were those #3's widely agreed (either within al-Qaeda or by western experts) to be #3 in al-Qaeda before they got caught/killed? Or maybe whenever the U.S. catches/kills some fairly high-ranking al-Qaeda member, they just post-facto declare that he was #3?

Posted by: Bryan on January 31, 2008 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

Where are the tears, Kevin? Aren't you upset that a terrorist was killed? If only we were given a chance to "unnderstand" him. Yeah, that's the ticket.

[/sarcsam]

Ok, enough of the saracsm. This is great news, and just one more datapoint to show that Bush's surge is an undeniable success.

Posted by: egbert on January 31, 2008 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

C'mon egbert, you have to try harder. The surge was in Iraq. He was killed in Pakistan.

Posted by: Everett on January 31, 2008 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

Or perhaps, egbert is right. The overwhelming success of the surge sent him into a state of despondency so profound that he threw himself in front of an oncoming drone missile.

Posted by: Everett on January 31, 2008 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

After al-Libi's failure at Bagram Air Base, he should have been demoted.

Posted by: Brojo on January 31, 2008 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

All snark aside, just exactly what does that mean? Are you referring to the failed attack on the base while our Vice President visited there? Seriously. Are you actually expressing regret about that failure? It is well known that I have problems with the nonsense you post here (as well as with some other posters) but if that is the case you are waaaaay over the line. And I can't beleive you would be permitted to post that. I hope I am misunderstanding your comment, but I really think you should explain it.

Posted by: Pat on January 31, 2008 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

Everett, you just beat me to it. But you know, Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Taliban, Baath, Al-Quaeda -- for us to get bogged down in these fine conceptual distinctions is JUST WHAT THE TERRORISTS WANT.

Posted by: The Fabulous Mr. Toad on January 31, 2008 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

C'mon Pat, get a grip. If you were terrorist planner, and your attack failed to kill a high-ranking target would you not consider that plan a failure? This is called "looking at something from someone else's view point." Doing this does not mean that you condone that view point.

Posted by: Everett on January 31, 2008 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

TFMT, you're right. If we learn geography, the terrorists win!

Posted by: Everett on January 31, 2008 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

Why do geography teachers hate America?

Posted by: The Fabulous Mr. Toad on January 31, 2008 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

Good riddance.

Posted by: Boorring on January 31, 2008 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

"You'd think, after a while, al Qaeda's #4 guys would stop seeking promotions."

Being promoted to number three in AQ is like being voted number one in Hamas during the 90's.
Sure, it's a great title and all, but the party goers might as well paint a huge brilliant neon target on your back as well.

Posted by: sheerahkahn on January 31, 2008 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

Why do geography teachers hate America?

Because they can't find it on the map. There is, however, this place called the United States.

Posted by: thersites on January 31, 2008 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

Aside from the routine jokes about the al-Qaeda #3 thing, what is that supposed to mean? All the terrorist organizations in the world have a unified command structure, and the three of the top four slots are (or were, prior to this guy getting killed) filled by al-Qaeda members?
Posted by: cmdicely

al-Qaeda-- the Skull and Bones of terrorist organizations!

Posted by: cyntax on January 31, 2008 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

Used to be Emmanuel Goldstein was the bad guy and Winston Smith was the good guy - now it's the perennial Al Qaeda #3. we're all supposed to bark at during our Two Minute Hate spells. We are, nonetheless, at war with Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia, all at once, apparently. Particularly if McCain gets a say in the matter ...

Posted by: SteinL on January 31, 2008 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

Was he the a-libi Bush/Cheney needed?

Posted by: european lurker on January 31, 2008 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

BTW - speaking of emblematic monikers that one should avoid. It was earnestly explained to me that McCain was the creature from Revelations, by a most dedicated Evangelical, who was likewise convinced that the front runner of the GOP had betrayed his "brother(s)" while at the Hanoi Hilton.
Could this election get any stranger, I wonder?

Posted by: SteinL on January 31, 2008 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

Eggbert I just did a Signing Statment and you are no longer a US citizen.GWB.

Posted by: john john on January 31, 2008 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK

Thersites,

Huh. You know, there might be something in this theory of a correlation between hating a country and not being able to find it on a map . . . .

Posted by: The Fabulous Mr. Toad on January 31, 2008 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

And then let's not discount the possibility that #3 is the Newbie starting position in Al Qaeda.

"Mom! Dad! Guess what? They must have been impressed with my beard! I'm already #3 in the organization!!!"

Posted by: SteinL on January 31, 2008 at 7:05 PM | PERMALINK

Does the #3 guy in Al Qaeda wear a red shirt?

Posted by: fafner1 on January 31, 2008 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

Oh no! They killed Kenny!

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on January 31, 2008 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, it is just like being #2 in the polls in college football this past season...

Posted by: jfwells on January 31, 2008 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK

Quaker in a Basement wins Iowa.

Posted by: Newly Converted Quaker Toad on January 31, 2008 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, I'm sure we'd love to stop you if we could. But, fortunately, we can't!

Posted by: parrot on January 31, 2008 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

What is this about egbert that he doesn't even notice when there is a guest host? Does he even read the blog? Or is he afraid that his mind might be affected by the Liberal Force Field™? He's becoming the poster boy for non-sentience.

Posted by: idlemind on January 31, 2008 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

# 1-Al. #2-Ex-Lib. #3-Egbert. Uh-oh. Duck!

Posted by: bobbywally on January 31, 2008 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

One more reason to scrap the BCS system...

Posted by: absent observer on January 31, 2008 at 8:13 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with Brojo at 6:06 and no it doesn't need to be explained.

Posted by: R.L. on January 31, 2008 at 8:44 PM | PERMALINK

If #1=president, #2=senior VP, and #3=VP, and if Al Qaeda is organized like a US bank, then there could be thousands of #3s.

Posted by: JS on January 31, 2008 at 9:00 PM | PERMALINK

Oh No!! We're gonna need another Timmy!

Posted by: Paul Camp on January 31, 2008 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe this part of the al-Qaeda Human Resources department's recruiting pitch? Lots of potential for upward promotion?

Posted by: Hemlock for Gadflies on January 31, 2008 at 9:42 PM | PERMALINK

So which is the tougher job... #3 or #2?

Posted by: dr.steveb on January 31, 2008 at 10:26 PM | PERMALINK

So which is the tougher job... #3 or #2?

Depends on whether you ask a #3 or a #2.

Posted by: JS on January 31, 2008 at 10:40 PM | PERMALINK

They are only number 3 because the Bush administration says they are. Everyone knows 1 and 2; so, when we kill someone who is Al Quaeda, we just say he's number 3. Who would know the difference?

Posted by: Idaho Nick on January 31, 2008 at 10:41 PM | PERMALINK

Abu Laith al-Libi was an important al-Qai'da figure, but certainly not "#3". Al-Qai'da does not have an open slot for "number threes" that just keeps rotating, not to mention that there are a number of figures more important than Laith al-Libi after Bin Laden and Zawahiri. It is an important strike, but the media (and military spokespeople) utterly oversimplifies with the endless reports of "number three" being killed that people get turned off and cynical. This won't necessarily change much, although it is the type of high-profile strike we should be focusing on instead of trying to get the small-time people in Iraq who are really only against us invading their country!

Posted by: yf on January 31, 2008 at 11:25 PM | PERMALINK

Correction here for you.

CNN headline actually reads "CIA kills top al-Qaeda terrorist in Pakistan."

Maybe if we had promoted yet another al-Qaeda operative to top spot in Pakistan, demoting bin Laden to #3, we might have stood a chance of getting the man most US citizens would like to see got.

But noooo! We had to screw up even this most subtle and trully existential machination.

Posted by: notthere on January 31, 2008 at 11:25 PM | PERMALINK

Most dangerous job in the world: al-Qaeda #3
Safest job in the world: al-Qaeda #1 and #2

Posted by: MikeN on January 31, 2008 at 11:45 PM | PERMALINK

>You'd think, after a while, al Qaeda's #4 guys would stop seeking promotions.

No No. This is how promotions are made. Even in the U.S. forces. You get killed and another is promotion to fill that position. Didn't you watch "Band Of Brothers" about Easy Company during WW2? Boy, were the Germans making a lot of promotions for U.S. troops.

Next Please!


Posted by: James on February 1, 2008 at 12:37 AM | PERMALINK

Posted by: Dr WU-the last of the big time thinkers:
Being number 3 in Al Queda is like being a drummer in a lot of bands--they keep on O'D 'ing but there's always another.


I was going to say that AQ's number 3 is like being The Grateful Dead keyboard player (TC not withstanding)

Posted by: G.Kerby on February 1, 2008 at 12:44 AM | PERMALINK

I prefer to think of the AQ #3 as the drummer in Spinal Tap myself.

Posted by: danimal on February 1, 2008 at 12:53 AM | PERMALINK

Back in 2005 I developed a scheme the press officers could use for any "senior Zarqawi aid killed"

There were at least 19 such "aides" reported killed between 2003 and 2005.

Looks like the military changed the name but still uses the scheme.

http://www.moonofalabama.org/2005/06/make_your_own.html

Posted by: b on February 1, 2008 at 1:44 AM | PERMALINK

I imagine that #2 or #3 spot is a demotion.

Posted by: merlallen on February 1, 2008 at 4:39 AM | PERMALINK

Number three? Again with the number three ... why can't they ever kill a number one or number two? You'd think number one and two were hiding out in the White House for all the trouble they are having getting to them.

Posted by: David on February 1, 2008 at 7:20 AM | PERMALINK

AQ doesn't call them #3, we do because clearly OBL and Zawahiri are 1 and 2, we haven't gotten them, so the next best thing...

Posted by: searp on February 1, 2008 at 7:38 AM | PERMALINK

You don't get it. Numbers one and two are a lock, so bin Laden tells everyone else they tied for number three. That is about all he can give them, a phony title. We play along because it makes it sound like progress even though we are trying to drain the Everglades with a teaspoon.

Posted by: Tripp on February 1, 2008 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

"You'd think, after a while, al Qaeda's #4 guys would stop seeking promotions." The Avis of terror orginizations.

Posted by: #4 I die harder on February 1, 2008 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

The Czech who assassinated Reinhardt Heydrich is a great hero, not only in the old Czechoslovakia, but in the world.

Posted by: Hostile on February 1, 2008 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

Most dangerous job in the world: al-Qaeda #3
Safest job in the world: al-Qaeda #1 and #2

Probably Al Qaeda #1 & #2 work for Dick Cheney, when a #3 figures that out, the US military gets a "hot tip"....

Posted by: Ray Waldren on February 1, 2008 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

In fact, there were several people there, the "#3" is SUPPOSED to have been among them, and since they're all SUPPOSED to be dead, he should be dead either.
It was SUPPOSED that he was a terrorist involved in attacks.
We SUPPOSED he was killed by a drone equiped with missiles.
Considering that it was SURE that Iraq had WMD, links with alqaeda, Jessica Lynch was a hero, and so on, just imagine how reliable are such suppositions...

Posted by: bert on February 1, 2008 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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