Information Warfare: An Uncertain Death


June 18, 2012: On June 4th an American UAV over Pakistan fired a missile at a vehicle in North Waziristan believed to be carrying al Qaeda number two man Abu Yahya al Libi. Over the next few weeks the chatter in and around North Waziristan (a terrorist sanctuary maintained by the Pakistani military) was that al Libi was indeed dead. However, one senior terrorist claimed al Libi was not in the car hit with the missile. Recently a video appeared featuring al Libi but nothing was said in that video indicating when it was made.

All this is nothing unusual for al Qaeda. The organization is constantly losing key people but has learned to be careful passing such information around internal channels, as the Americans seek to track the flow of such communications to set up attacks on other terrorist leaders. So al Qaeda takes its time, often using couriers to personally deliver messages between senior leaders about what has happened to whom and what to do next. Sometimes al Qaeda prefers to deny they lost a guy for a while, and then admit he is dead but from other causes. Other reasons for delays are to line up a suitable replacement and make sure the new guy is safe before letting the world know he's just become a more prominent target. Lastly, al Qaeda likes to honor their dead, and the senior dead guys require a suitable eulogy and fulsome praise from other prominent mass murderers. This takes time to prepare.

So it may be a while before we get official confirmation from al Qaeda that Abu Yahya al Libi is truly dead. Meanwhile, there have been no sightings of him. Then again, al Libi may just be staying out of sight in case the UAVs are seeking a second shot.


Article Archive

Information Warfare: Current 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close