Al Qaeda's number two leader Atiyah Rahman, 40, has been killed in Pakistan which the U.S. claimed another "tremendous" blow to the terrorist group following the death of Osama bin Laden, reports Reuters.
According to the U.S. officials, Rahman was killed in Waziristan in northwest Pakistan where intelligence officials believe members of al Qaeda are hiding in a strike by an unmanned drone on Aug. 22.
The killing is likely to be particularly highly prized by Washington as the U.S. strategists would have been concerned about Rahman's potential influence in Libya's turmoil following the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, analysts say.
Rahman from coastal Libyan town of Misrata, in his early 40s built a reputation in Al Qaida as a philosopher, organizer, and trusted emissary of the Pakistan based central leadership.
He played a key role in managing ties between the core leadership and al Qaeda in Iraq and helped negotiate the formation in 2007 of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) with a group of Algerian Islamist guerrillas.
A former Libyan Islamist and now an analyst with Britain's Quilliam think tank, Noman Benotman, described Rahman as Al Qaeda's "CEO", or chief executive officer.
"This was the one man Al Qaeda could not afford to lose," Benotman said.
He was also one of the first Al Qaeda leaders to provide a response to the uprisings in the Arab world, urging the group's supporters to cooperate with the revolts even if the rebellions were not Islamist-inspired.
"It's immensely important that he's been killed," said Anna Murison, who monitors Islamist violence for Exclusive Analysis, a London-based risk consultancy.
"He was widely trusted throughout the organization and Islamists from very varied backgrounds listened to him," she added.
"Al Qaeda as an idea will live on, but Al Qaeda core as an organisation looks pretty much finished as there are so few people who can now move up into those senior ranks," she said.
He one of only four people in Al Qaeda's leadership with a global profile in the small but passionate transnational community of violent Islamist militants.
Rahman rose to the number two spot when al-Zawahri took the reins of Al Qaedaafter Osama bin Laden was killed in May in a U.S. raid in Pakistan.
Analysist have the opinion that his death was a heavy blow to Al Qaedaas he was its main organiser and manager.
Indicating his importance in the Al Qaeda and its future "this was the one man Al Qaeda could not afford to lose," Benotman said.
"In the last two years he more or less single-handedly kept Al Qaeda together. He was a strong decision maker, an excellent debater and a skilled peacemaker between various Islamist groups," said the analysts.
According to Benotman, Rahman's real name was Jamal Ibrahim Ishtawi. He was a graduate of the engineering department of Misrata University and left Libya to go to Afghanistan in 1988 and join the Islamist groups then fighting Soviet occupation.
"Rahman was a personal acquaintance of Bentoman but he was never a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, an Islamist guerrilla organisation that waged a failed insurgency to topple Gaddafi in the 1990s and of which Benotman was a leader.
Rahman was one of Al Qaeda's earliest members and worked for the anti-Western militant group in Algeria and Mauritania as well as Afghanistan, Benotman said.
In a statement posted on militant online forums on Feb. 23, Rahman acknowledged that the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia were not the "perfections for which we hoped," but they were happy occasions nonetheless.
He dismissed the notion that Al Qaedahas a "magic wand" to gather large armies and lead the charge to overturn governments and rescue besieged Muslims, according to a translation by the Site Intelligence Group, a U.S. monitoring company.
Rather, he wrote, "Al Qaedais a simple part of the efforts of the jihadi Ummah (nation), so do not think of them to be more than they are. We all should know our abilities and to try to cooperate in goodness, piety and jihad in the Cause of Allah; everyone in his place and with whatever they can and what is suitable to them."
With the death of Osama bin Laden in May of 2011, amidst confusion, including over who would succeed bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri, he was eventually designated as Al Qaeda's second in command.
According to a 2006 profile in the Washington Post Atiyah had volunteered to travel to Afghanistan to fight against its Soviet occupiers in the 1980s, while he was still a teenager.
He is reported to have met and served under Osama bin Laden at that time.
The Washington Post reported that another prominent Libyan exile, Noman Betoman, he was sent to Algeria in the 1990s to serve as an envoy to a group they said was then known as the Armed Islamic Group (GIA).
The State Department offered up to US$1million for information about him.