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Slain Militant Leader Played Critical Role in Al-Qaida Operations


Abu Laith al-Libi, a top al-Qaida commander believed to have been killed in a missile strike earlier this week, had a long history of militancy.

Libi, a Libyan national in his forties, was one of the highest profile al-Qaida leaders, after Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Libi appeared in a number of al-Qaida propaganda videos and played a critical role in recruiting and training al-Qaida operatives at training camps in Pakistan's tribal region, along the Afghan border. He spent much of the last decade in Afghanistan, working with Taliban militants to carry out al-Qaida operations there.

Libi was also a leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, an organization dedicated to overthrowing Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

U.S. officials say he was involved in a number of attacks against U.S. and coalition forces, including last year's bombing that killed 23 people at the Bagram military base in Afghanistan. The attack occurred during a visit by U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney in February.

Libi was on a U.S. list of 12 "most wanted" terrorists and had a bounty on his head.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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