The Corner

The Death of al-Qaeda’s Number Three

As Andy McCarthy noted this morning, al-Qaeda announced yesterday that its number three, Mustafa al-Yazid (“al Masri”), was killed, most likely by a U.S. Predator-drone strike. This is, of course, excellent news. Not only was al Masri the top al-Qaeda leader in Afghanistan, but he also ran day-to-day operations for al-Qaeda, including fundraising and financing. This will set back their operations, and the key will be to kick them while they’re down.

From my perspective, this news tells us three important things: 1) U.S. intelligence is improving, either because of increased cooperation by Pakistani leadership and/or intelligence services, or through human intelligence developed by the U.S. surge of forces in southern and eastern Afghanistan; 2) U.S. drone strikes have been, and continued to be, an effective tool in hunting down al-Qaeda leaders; this is just the latest in a long list of al-Qaeda/Taliban leaders killed by remote-controlled Predator drones; 3) the U.S. is safer when we are actively and aggressively hunt down those who wish us harm. Sometimes it’s counterterrorism, sometimes it’s counterinsurgency, but it must be on the offensive.

Hopefully, this same approach can be used to get bin Laden and Zawahiri. That would be the gold-standard, and I hope this announcement means we’re closer than ever.  Either way, this should serve as further vindication of Obama’s Predator policy in Pakistan. Even though his administration refuses to call the enemy by its name, and Obama has handcuffed commanders in Afghanistan with a timeline for withdrawal in July 2011, this policy has been effective and deadly. If only he’d fight that way on all fronts.


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