I have a new article published today at Foreign Policy's AFPAK Channel, "Al-Qaeda Loses its 'Renaissance Man': What the Death of 'Sheikh Atiyyatullah' Means." It examined the multifaceted role of 'Atiyyatullah Abu 'Abd al-Rahman al-Libi as one of Al-Qa'ida Central's (AQC) senior leaders and most important ideologues as well as a strategist and operational commander. The introduction reads:
"The reported killing in late August of Atiyyatullah Abu Abd al-Rahman (sometimes given in jihadi sources as Abu Abd al-Rahman Atiyyatullah al-Libi or simply Atiyah Abd al-Rahman) in a U.S. drone strike in North Waziristan, if confirmed, deprives al-Qaeda Central (AQC) of one of its most versatile and important leaders and ideologues. Known more popularly in jihadi circles as "Sheikh Atiyyatullah," he straddled the operational, media, and ideological sides of AQC's global campaign. He was also at the forefront on a number of issues, including the militant organization's attempt to embrace and co-opt the uprisings in the Arab world, and intervened forcefully in debates among jihadis, actively counseling against the use of mass violence against other Muslims.
His loss would be a severe blow to an organization that is already reeling from the loss of its charismatic founder-leader Osama bin Laden, and more recently the arrest of another key operational planner, Younis al-Mauretani. Atiyyatullah's death has been claimed by U.S. government sources but has not been confirmed by AQC itself, casting some doubt on to whether he was actually killed. Reports surfaced in October 2010 that he had been killed but were proven wrong when he surfaced in film and audio releases from al-Qaeda's al-Sahab Media Foundation in mid-March of this year."Read the rest at FOREIGN POLICY.