Abu Laith Al-Libi

Friday, February 1, 2008

Abu Laith al-Libi, a senior al-Qaeda field commander who was reported killed this week in Pakistan, had a long history with militant groups and causes. He was a leader in the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, an organization dedicated to overthrowing Moammar Gaddafi.

U.S. intelligence officials have said he was close to the Taliban and did not have a longtime formal association with al-Qaeda. But Osama bin Laden's core command had become increasingly dependent on Libi's organizing and military skills, they said.

He had also become more visible on the Internet, appearing in several al-Qaeda videos, most recently in one released last April 27.

Libi fought in Afghanistan in the 1980s and early 1990s, then returned to Libya to prepare for a coup against Gaddafi's government. But the plot fizzled and Libi fled to Saudi Arabia, where he was arrested after a November 1995 bombing outside the U.S. office for the training of the Saudi national guard. He spent time in prison in Riyadh but reportedly escaped or was released.

Libi later returned to Afghanistan.

The U.S. military has blamed him for a suicide bombing that killed 23 people outside Bagram air base in Afghanistan during a visit by Vice President Cheney last February.

In June, Libi was the target of a U.S. rocket attack in Afghanistan's Paktia province.

-- Craig Whitlock and Munir Ladaa

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