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?Al-Libbi is just a ?middle-level? leader,? said Jean-Charles Brisard, a French intelligence investigator and leading expert on terrorism finance. ?Pakistan and US authorities have completely overestimated his role and importance. He was never more than a regional facilitator between Al-Qaeda and local Pakistani Islamic groups.?


According to Brisard, the arrested man lacks the global reach of Al-Qaeda leaders such as Ayman al-Zawahiri, Bin Laden?s number two, Khalid Shaikh Mohammad, the mastermind of the September 11 attacks, or Anas al-Liby.



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it's an overly simplistic (check that--retarded) explanation to just assume the US and pakistan has confused two guys with similar last names because some european intelligence officials disagree about al-libbi's importance.


Some intelligence officials in Europe expressed surprise at hearing Libbi described as al-Qaeda's third-highest leader, pointing out that he does not figure on the FBI's list of most-wanted terror suspects. There is another al-Qaeda operative on the list with a similar name, Abu al-Liby, also a Libyan, who was indicted for an "operational role" in the bombings of two American embassies in East Africa in August 1998. (In Arabic, the surname, in its various transliterations, means simply the Libyan.)


American intelligence officials, when asked about the doubts, dismissed the idea that they had confused the two Libyans, saying they know Liby is on the list, and reaffirmed the importance of Libbi. To be included on the FBI's most-wanted list, they noted, a terror suspect must have been indicted by a federal grand jury, which Libbi has not.


Another senior counterterrorism official based in Europe, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed the Americans' version, saying Libbi had indeed become an important operational commander of al-Qaeda. He had worked directly with Mohammed, the official said, and assumed many of Mohammed's responsibilities in Pakistan after the latter's arrest. "He's someone we have been watching closely for a while now, and his arrest is an important development," the official said.


The official went on to say that Libbi is believed to be among the few senior members of the organization who know the whereabouts of bin Laden and Zawahiri.



i don't necessarily buy that he was the #3 in command, but the mistaken identity explanation the times of london suggests is idiotic.

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