Notable about al-Libi's death is that like just about anything else in Afghanistan, it was announced by the insurgents and terrorists before it was announced by ISAF. Is ISAF not prepared to kill bad guys? Is it a big surprise so difficult to anticipate that they couldn't at least have a prepared statement for when a senior commander is killed or might have been killed?
The best that ISAF could muster for the AP was a statement by an anonymous official:
''There is no confirmation from our side,'' said a NATO official in Kabul on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the issue.
Al-Qaeda was much more direct about the issue:
"In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
"God Almighty said, 'Think not of those who are slain in Allah's way as dead. Nay, they live, finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord' [Koranic verse; Al-Imran 3:169].
"With this, we bring to the Muslim nation the good tidings of the martyrdom of the courageous Shaykh Abu-al-Layth al-Libi, may God accept him.
"Copied from the brother Abu-Rayyan, the supervisor in Al-Ikhlas.
"There is no power and no strength save in God."
Also, I don't think AQ is internationally hierarchical enough to characterize Al-Libi as AQ's "number 3." I think he could be best identified as their senior operational commander within Afghanistan.
Of his own death, al-Libi said in a message to "the faithful" earlier this year:
Oh God, if my death is imminent, do not let me die in a coffin in green pastures. Grant that my tomb be an eagle's battling stomach within the skies of dedicated eagles. And let me die as an equal martyr and be burned as a guerilla [fighter] in a mountain pass.
And only in this can I agree heartily with both him and his ilk...
While I recognize the shortcomings of much of what we do in Afghanistan and Iraq and recognize that the death of the world's al-Libis will never be enough without a focus on the political, economic, and social aspects of the insurgencies, I do offer my sincerest wish of speedy martyrdom to his successor.