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Terrorism & Security

Killing of Al Qaeda's No. 2 a hammer blow to weakening group [VIDEO]

The CIA has reportedly killed Al Qaeda's No. 2 Atiyah Abdul Rahman in a drone strike in Pakistan. His death comes as a massive blow to the terrorist group's central leadership.

By Correspondent / August 28, 2011

Al Qaeda's leader Ayman al-Zawahri speaks from an unknown location in this file photo. Al-Zawahri may have a hard time retaining power now that Al Qaeda's second in command, Atiyah Abdul Rahman, has been reported killed.

Screen Capture/Reuters/File

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A Central Intelligence Agency-operated drone has killed Al Qaeda’s No. 2 commander in a strike in Pakistan, according to reports.

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The loss of Atiyah Abdul Rahman severely damages the Islamic terror organization’s central leadership, which many US officials say is now on the verge of defeat. Still, other officials say that in the short term the death of Rahman will not dramatically affect Al Qaeda cells spread out around the world.

Although Al Qaeda is structured so any of its members can be easily replaced, terrorism experts say that Mr. Rahman represented a unique asset to the organization and it is unlikely that a successor will share his qualifications and abilities.

Without him, Al Qaeda leader Ayman Al Zawahiri is likely to struggle to keep control of the organization, reports the Los Angles Times.

“Rahman has been at the nerve center of Al Qaeda's global terrorist operations,” said Noman Benotman, a former Libyan jihadist who knew Rahman and other Al Qaeda leaders in an interview with CNN earlier this week. “He has become their CEO, the only person that Al Qaeda cannot afford to lose.”

Who was Rahman?

Rahman became the second in command shortly after the death of Osama bin Laden. In the years leading up to bin Laden’s death, Rahman managed to become one of the Al Qaeda leader’s most trusted deputies. He first joined forces with bin Laden in Afghanistan during the Soviet War in the 1980s, reports Bloomberg.

Unlike many in Al Qaeda, the Wall Street Journal reports that Rahman was unique because he possessed both theological training and operational military experience. As a result, he could both run operations and issue fatwas interpreting Islamic law, something not even Mr. Zawahiri is qualified to do.

“In terms of theology, it's very dry right now for Al Qaeda," said Omar Ashour, a professor of Middle East Studies at Exeter University in an article by the Wall Street Journal. “This was one of the few who gathered both tactics: Being an experienced actvist and a theologian at the same time."

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