Better question: does it really matter? While this CBS report gives good reason to believe Zawahiri may have been killed — according to the usual “experts” — this CNN report indicates there is no “credible evidence.” But while the entire intelligence community ponders this temporal question, a more “eternal” question is: will the slaying of individual terrorists — be they Zawahiri or bin Laden — have any real effects on the long term goals of the jihad? Likening jihadis to the ever-sprouting heads of the hydra monster of legend, I addressed this question here, when there was similarly a lot of hubbub about whether or not al-Qaeda in Iraq’s Abu Hamza was killed.”Exclusive: Al Qaeda No. 2 Injured?” from CBS, August 1:
(CBS) Ayman al-Zawahiri – the second most powerful leader in al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden’s No. 2 – may be critically wounded and possibly dead, CBS News chief foreign affairs correspondent Lara Logan reports exclusively.
CBS News has obtained a copy of an intercepted letter from sources in Pakistan, which urgently requests a doctor to treat al-Zawahiri. He’s believed to be somewhere in Pakistan’s remote tribal areas of Pakistan.
The letter refers to Sheikh Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri by name – and says that he is in “severe pain” and his “injuries are infected.”
It is reportedly written by local Taliban leader, Baitullah Mehsud, whose signature and seal are visible on the letter.
The Taliban logo and the Mehsud’s seal have been confirmed by experts as legitimate.
The letter is dated July 29 – one day after a U.S. air strike that killed al Qaeda weapons expert Abu Khabab al-Masri, and five other Arabs in South Waziristan.
U.S. authorities have said they do not have information that al-Zawahiri was present during Monday’s strike, or that he was injured.
However, a counter-intelligence expert and other U.S. officials confirmed to CBS News that the U.S. is looking into reports that al-Zawahiri is dead.
Logan reports that while there have been false death rumors regarding al-Zawahiri before, there have been no denials yet from Pakistan, the U.S. or al Qaeda Web sites.