Putting aside for a moment the possible address on the putative Osama Bin-Laden letter (Mr. Osama Bin-Laden, Cave #42, Bedrock, Waziristan, Pakistan) one wonders how many times will a number two, right hand man or major operative be killed or captured? And how long will mainstream media keep printing this kind of headline? Googling Mr. Al-Liby's name yields approximately twenty thousand hits. That means that this information was regurgitated in some form by thousands of print and other media outlets worldwide.
Googling "Al-Qaeda number two arrested" yields over 4.7 million hits. The most recent a September 4, 2006 Washington Post article entitled "Iraq Cites Arrest of a Top Local Insurgent" with the money quote in the first sentence of paragraph two:
"The arrest of Hamed Jumaa Faris Juri al-Saeidi, described by Iraqi officials as the No. 2 leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, was the latest in a series of blows to the Sunni Arab insurgent group, believed responsible for numerous suicide attacks on civilians and other deadly violence."
Wow, a "Number Two" gets arrested on 9/4/06 and a week later another "Number Two" gets killed. Seems like Al-Qaeda leadership in Iraq is something like a game of musical chairs. However, the family of Thamer Mousen al-Jibouri should feel slighted. Mr. al-Jibouri, killed in the same action as Mr. Al-Liby is described as merely the fourth ranked member of Al-Qaeda in Iraq.
In late June, the family of Mansour Suleiman al-Mashhadani was undoubtedly gratified to hear of their relative's stature at the time of his death as reported by Fox News:
Mansour "reportedly served as a right-hand man of Zarqawi's, and also served as a liaison between Al Qaeda in Iraq and the various tribes in the Youssifiyah area, as well as playing a key role in their media operations,"
Not exactly a number two but a right hand man, that's not too shabby!
Fox seems to dig the whole number two concept as well:
US Special Forces Kill Number Two Terrorist in Iraq.
"FOX News has confirmed that Abu Azzam, who was believed to have been in charge of the financing of terrorist cells in the war-torn country, was killed during a raid in Baghdad early Monday morning Iraq time. Azzam is thought to be the top deputy to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Iraq's most wanted terrorist."
Too bad Newsweek later questioned Mr. Azzam's importance. Aw, nuts, and I thought we had ourselves another number two. That damn liberal media always wants to spoil the fun!
Not to worry, a month earlier the Department of Defense was able to report the death of Abu Zubair, "a lieutenant" to Abu Musab Zarqawi. He also had one of those letters addressed to Zarqawi. Maybe that's how they found Ol' Abu Musab and blew him up! "Dear Abu Musab, hope this letter finds you well..." Kaboom!
I did wonder why Mr. Zubair wasn't the number two guy as we had taken out the old "number two" only a month before on June 26, 2005:
"Top Zarqawi Aide Killed in Attack"
"Abu Alghadiya, a Syrian dentist married to a Jordanian woman, was described by Arab media as the `number two' in Iraq's Al Qaeda network and tipped to succeed its leader Abu Musab Al Zarqawi".
Maybe Zubair wasn't a dentist so he wasn't qualified to be a full fledged number two? I keep googling my way through even more right hand men and lieutenants, becoming convinced that Zarqawi must have had the anatomy of an Indian deity. Then I stumble on something chilling:
"A Zarqawi Cell Prince, Six others captured in Baqaba."
"An Iraqi police source told reporters that soldiers of the Iraqi Army captured Taifor Abdulsattar Malallah one of the "princes" of the Musab Zarqawi terrorist group in Baquba."
Damn glad we got rid of that terrorist prince! He might have had one of those Aladdin Lamps that he could rub and blow up the Empire State Building. Really dodged a bullet from that Prince Malallah!
I finally run out of time and patience. There are just too many number twos, lieutenants and right hand men. But I did finally find blogenlust.net, a site that has meticulously notes each arrest. Apparently, the number of Really Bad Guys killed or captured currently stands at 41. Thank goodness as we stand down those Iraqi's will keep standing up and getting those number twos! Can't wait for the next headline.