Rumors of Zawahiri’s Demise Questionable

by Steven R. Corman

The U.S. Predator strike in South Waziristan earlier this week is reported to have killed not one but two important al Qaeda operatives.   Some are hopeful that it bagged a bigger prize.  Yesterday CBS news reported that the strike may also killed or seriously wounded Ayman al Zawahiri.

Before you pop the champagne corks, there are good reasons to take the news with a grain of salt.  Bill Roggio at the Long War Journal suggests a number of reasons for skepticism:

  • The reports come from suspicious sources in Pakistani intelligence
  • Similar reports from these sources have proven untrue in the past
  • Pakistan could have floated the rumor to divert attention from recent negative reports about its intelligence service
  • The death has not been announced as a martyrdom by the Bad Guys, which would be standard operating procedure

Will McCants adds that he has been unable to find anything about the supposed death in exremist forums. Finally, this morning Reuters reports that the Taliban are denying it.