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Associated Press / ndtv.com / Updated: August 27, 2011 23:04 IST.
Washington: Al Qaeda's second-in-command, Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, has been killed in Pakistan, delivering another big blow to a terrorist group that the U.S. believes to be on the verge of defeat, a senior Obama administration official said Saturday.
The Libyan national who was the network's former operational leader rose to Al Qaeda's No. 2 spot after the U.S. killed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden during a raid on his Pakistan compound in May.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said last month that Al Qaeda's defeat was within reach if the U.S. could mount a string of successful attacks on the group's weakened leadership.
"Now is the moment, following what happened with bin Laden, to put maximum pressure on them," Panetta said, "because I do believe that if we continue this effort we can really cripple Al Qaeda as a major threat."
Al-Rahman was killed Aug. 22 in the lawless Pakistani tribal region of Waziristan, according to the official said, who insisted on anonymity to discuss intelligence issues.