Skip to comments.Al-Qaeda’s No. 2 had close call in 2009
Posted on 11/29/2010 1:03:27 PM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach
The CIA has come closer to capturing or killing Osama bin Ladens top deputy than was previously known, during a nine-year hunt at the root of a devastating 2009 suicide bombing at an agency base in Afghanistan, The Associated Press has learned.
The CIA missed a chance to nab Ayman al-Zawahiri in 2003 in the northwest Pakistani city of Peshawar, where he met with another senior al-Qaeda leader who was apprehended the next day, several current and former U.S. intelligence officials said.
The fugitive Egyptian doctor may also have narrowly survived a bombing by Pakistani military planes in 2004, the former and current officials said. And a well-publicised U.S. missile strike aimed at him in 2006 failed because he did not turn up at the attack site, they said.
Targeting al-Zawahiri along with bin Laden is a main goal of U.S. counterterror efforts, focused on a man who has retained control of al-Qaedas operations and strategic planning even as he has led an underground existence in Pakistans rugged tribal border zone.
Finding senior al-Qaeda terrorists at a time when were pursuing the most aggressive counterterrorism operations in our history is of course a top priority for the CIA, said agency spokesman George Little.
But unlike bin Laden, a cipher since the Sept. 11 attacks who has surfaced only in occasional taped statements, al-Zawahiri has kept a higher public profile, taking risks that expose him more.
He is known to travel cautiously and regularly issues audio and video harangues that are scrutinised closely for clues, said the current and former officials, who insisted on anonymity to discuss the classified hunt for the al-Qaeda leader.
(Excerpt) Read more at thehindu.com ...