Al Qaeda says its No. 3 man and commander of its operations in Afghanistan has died, according to a group that monitors Islamist Web sites.

Al Qaeda announced the death of Mustafa Abu Yazid in a message posted on such Web sites on Monday, the Maryland-based SITE Intelligence Group said. While the message didn’t detail the circumstances of Yazid’s death, it did say his wife, three of his daughters, a granddaughter and others were killed, according to SITE.

Yazid, an Egyptian national, is believed to be a financial manager for al Qaeda, as well as a co-founder of the terrorist group, according to SITE.

A U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity said the government has “strong reason to believe” that Yazid was killed recently in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

“In terms of counterterrorism, this would be a big victory,” the official said, noting that Yazid was al Qaeda’s prime conduit to leader Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

In the past, Yazid has made numerous statements on jihadist Web sites and in video releases from al Qaeda’s media arm, al Sahab.

Most recently, he announced that al Qaeda took responsibility for a December 30 attack on a base in eastern Afghanistan, killing seven CIA officers and consultants and a Jordanian army captain. He said the attack avenged the death of Baitullah Mehsud, leader of the Taliban in Pakistan who was killed in a missile strike last August, and al Qaeda operatives Saleh al-Somali and Abdullah al-Libi.

Source: CNN

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