Terror organization al Qaeda has confirmed the death of its No. 3 official, Mustafa al-Yazid, who is believed to have been killed along with his family members in a U.S. missile air strike, a U.S. official said.
A statement on an al Qaeda website described the 55-year-old as the terror group's top commander in Afghanistan.
The U.S. official said al-Yazid's death as a major blow to al Qaeda, which lost both its internal and external operations chiefs in December.
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Besides Afghanistan, evidence exists that al Yazid also had ties to militant groups in Central Asia and Pakistan, where other high ranking al-Qaeda figures are believed to be hiding.
"He definitely seems to have significant influence among the Pakistani Taliban and the Central Asian groups," terrorism expert Evan Kohlman said. "They regularly post and share his videos on the Web, just as they would with bin Laden or al-Zawahri."
Al-Yazid was reported as being killed in 2008, but this is the first time that his death has been acknowledged by the group on the Internet.
According to the Islamic calendar month, his death occurred sometime during May 2010.