WASHINGTON — A U.S. drone strike this week killed a senior al Qaeda operator in a Pakistani tribal area near the Afghan border, U.S. and Pakistani officials said Friday.
U.S. officials said Saleh al-Somali, who was responsible for al Qaeda’s operations outside of Afghanistan and Pakistan, was killed in the strike Tuesday. He was on the Central Intelligence Agency’s list of the top 20 al Qaeda targets, according to an official familiar with the list.
A U.S. drone strike this week killed Saleh al-Somali, a senior al Qaeda operator in a Pakistani tribal area near the Afghan border, said U.S. officials. Video courtesy Fox News. On Friday, officials in Pakistan said intelligence officers on the ground had identified the dead militant as Abu Yahya al-Libi, a senior al Qaeda figure higher on the CIA’s list of terrorist targets.
Mr. Somali was likely involved in planning attacks against the U.S. and Europe, and maintained links to Pakistan-based militants plotting attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan, a senior U.S. counterterrorism official said.
“He’s a big fish when it comes to [al Qaeda’s] efforts to strike in the West,” said Vahid Brown, a research fellow at West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center.