Abu Laith al Libi is seen in an undated video grab made available through the SITE Intelligence Group. (Photo: SITE Intelligence Group/Handout/Reuters)
One of al-Qaida's top commanders in Afghanistan has been killed, CNN reported on Thursday.
Citing a Western official and a senior US military official, CNN reported that the commander, identified as Abu Laith al-Libi, was a key link between Taliban and al-Qaida and ranked as one of the United States military's 12 most-wanted men.
Al-Libi, a 41-year-old Libyan descent, was also believed to have been behind the February 2007 bombing at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan while Vice President Dick Cheney was visiting the country, according to the report.
CNN Middle East analyst Octavia Nasr called the slain commander the No. 3 figure in the al-Qaida and fourth in the world.
Before joining al-Qaida, he was a leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which eventually merged with al-Qaida and was responsible for planning attacks throughout North Africa and the Middle East, a counter terrorism official told CNN.
Al-Libi's death was first announced by an Islamist website used by Osama Bin Laden's terror network on Thursday.
"We announce the good news to the Islamic world: Sheikh Abu Laith al-Qassimi al-Libi has fallen a martyr on the soil of Muslim Pakistan," said an announcement on the Al-Fajr Information Center site.
However, it did not say how and where al-Libi was killed.
The military unit that is responsible for searching for al-Libiin Afghanistan, Combined Joint Task Force-82, told CNN that they were not aware of al-Libi's death.
CNN's Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr reported that if al-Libi died in Pakistan, it was unlikely that he was killed by US ground troops that do not operate inside the Pakistani border.
However, the possibility remains that he was killed by a missile fired from a drone operated by the Central Investigation Agency and other US government agencies, Starr said.
The Pakistani military said earlier that an explosion occurred in North Waziristan on Tuesday, leaving 12 dead, but it was unclear whether al-Libi was among those killed.
(Xinhua News Agency February 1, 2008)