A drone operated by the C.I.A. killed Al Qaeda’s second-ranking operative in the mountains of Pakistan this month, an American official said Saturday, further weakening a terrorism network shaken by the killing of Osama bin Laden this year.
The official said that a drone strike on Aug. 22 killed Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, a Libyan who in the past year had taken over as Al Qaeda’s top operational planner. Mr. Rahman was in frequent contact with Bin Laden in the months before the terrorist leader was killed in May by a Navy Seals team, intelligence officials have said.
American officials described Mr. Rahman’s death as particularly significant compared with those of other high-ranking Qaeda operatives because he was one of a new generation of Qaeda leaders who the network hoped would assume greater control after Bin Laden’s death.