The Third Man? Or Just The Stranger?

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The London Times, fresh from exposing the Downing Street Iraq memo, is now casting doubt on Washington's claim that the recently captured Abu Faraj al-Libbi was the number-three man in Al Qaeda:

Bush called him a "top general" and "a major facilitator and chief planner for the Al-Qaeda network". Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state, said he was "a very important figure". Yet the backslapping in Washington and Islamabad has astonished European terrorism experts, who point out that the Libyan was neither on the FBI's most wanted list, nor on that of the State Department "rewards for justice" programme.

Another Libyan is on the FBI list—Anas al-Liby, who is wanted over the 1998 East African embassy bombings—and some believe the Americans may have initially confused the two. When The Sunday Times contacted a senior FBI counter-terrorism official for information about the importance of the detained man, he sent material on al-Liby, the wrong man.

[Via Clark Stooksbury.]

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  1. I have it on good authority that a guy named “Libby” is a top aid to the number two guy in a violent fundamentalist organization committed to global war.

  2. It has never been claimed that Anas al-Liby was third-in-command of al-Qaeda. Al-Libbi, however, was declared so by Pakistani forces and Richard Clarke last year. The Times seems to have based their story on 1) some European guys who missed that piece of news and 2) being forwarded the wrong file from an anonymous FBI source. I don’t know whether the man in custody was the actual Number Three, but he was the man being sought as such in a massive manhunt. They got the guy they were looking for.

  3. This is the link that didn’t work. You may need a login:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2004/09/19/walq19.xml

  4. This part of the story is also consistent with what the US has claimed:

    A former close associate of Bin Laden now living in London laughed: “What I remember of him is he used to make the coffee and do the photocopying.”

    Faraj was in fact bin Laden’s “personal assistant” prior to 2003, when, according to interrogations and intercepted e-mail, he was elevated to replace KSM.

  5. I’m surprised that the Downing St. Iraq memo hasn’t gotten a lot more attention as it seems to be a fairly damning document.

    No, waitaminute. I’m not surprised at all, actually.

  6. How do you go from “coffee boy” to number 3 in the Al Qaeda organization? This cat was motivated!

  7. Faraj al-Libbi: Here’s your decaf, Mr. Bin Laden! I made it just the way you like it!

    Osama: Kid, you’re going places!

    ====================================================

    (CONSPIRACY ALERT) Anyone remember what happened to the piss boy from History of the World, Part I? Truly, life imitates art!

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