New York, Apr.4 : The Bush Administration has reportedly expressed concern over the emergence of aLibyan as the voice of al Qaeda, and is reportedly gearing itself up to take him on.
Abu Yahya al-Libi , a Libyan believed to be in his late 30s, is now considered to be a top strategist for Al Qaeda.
According to the New York Times, he is also being seen as one of the terror networks most effective promoters of global jihad, appearing in a dozen videos on militant web sites in the past year.
Counter-terrorism officials were quoted by the paper as saying that at a time when Al Qaeda seems more inspirational than operational, Libi stands out as a formidable star whose rise to prominence tracks the group's growing emphasis on information in its war with the West.
"I call him a man for all seasons for A.Q. He's a warrior. He's a poet. He's a scholar. He's a pundit. He's a military commander. And he's a very charismatic, young, brash rising star within A.Q., and I think he has become the heir apparent to Osama bin Laden in terms of taking over the entire global jihadist movement," the paper quoted Jarret Brachman, a research director of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, as saying.
The paper further goes on to say that Libi possesses one skill that Al Qaeda's leaders of the past had been lacking -- religious scholarship. Perhaps with this in mind, Al Qaeda is featuring Libi, who spent two years in Africa studying Islam, in as many of the videos as the group's top leaders, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri.
In these videos, Libi dons the role of a recruiter to an ideological enforcer. He also sheds light on Al Qaeda's shifting tactics. In recent months, those tactics have come to include defensive maneuvers aimed at defusing the media counteroperations of the United States and its allies. Libi is using his videos not to expand Al Qaeda's base, but to shore it up, says the paper.
Libi began as a militant on a scholarly path, according to a Libyan man who says he knew him. His older brother, now imprisoned in Libya, had been a crucial figure in the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, whose members went to Afghanistan to help defeat the Soviet Union.
Libi, who went to Afghanistan in the early 1990s, was sent back to northern Africa to study Islam in Mauritania. When he returned two years later, Afghanistan was no longer a battleground for militant Libyans, but rather a haven: the Taliban controlled most of the country.
Libi's training in warfare was minimal, and his early work as a preacher rarely touched on militant action, according to the Libyan man who said he had met Libi in Afghanistan, and who spoke on condition of anonymity out of security concerns.
Then a year after 9/11, Mr. Libi was seized by Pakistani authorities and turned over to American authorities, who eventually put him in the Bagram prison.
Libi escaped in 2005, and now uses the names Hasan Qaiid and Yunis al-Sahrawi. He has also become the leader of a Libyan contingent of fighters in the Afghanistan and Pakistan region, particularly after the death this year of another key militant who went by the name of Abu Laith al-Libi. He is assumed to be living in the Afghan-Pakistani border area.