This very well could be the fruit of intel gathered at bin Laden's compound where we gathered up some laptops and other devices in an effort to track down other al-Qaeda biggies.
The New York Times:
A drone operated by the Central Intelligence Agency killed al Qaeda's second-ranking figure in the mountains of Pakistan earlier this month, American and Pakistani officials said on Saturday, further damaging a terror network that appears significantly weakened since the death of Osama bin Laden in May.
An American official said that a drone strike on Aug. 22 killed Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, a Libyan who in the last 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 terror leader was killed on May 2 by a team of Navy Seals, intelligence officials have said.
American officials described Mr. Rahman's death as particularly significant as compared with other high-ranking Qaeda operatives who have been killed, because he was one of a new generation of Qaeda leaders that the network hoped would assume greater control after Bin Laden's death.
Thousands of electronic files recovered at Bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, revealed that Bin Laden communicated frequently with Mr. Rahman. They also showed that Bin Laden relied on Mr. Rahman to get messages to other Qaeda leaders and to ensure that Bin Laden's recorded communications were broadcast widely.
There appears to be a faction in our intel agencies that wishes to pronounce al-Qaeda dead - or near death. That would certainly give the president a nice campaign theme, wouldn't it? While there is little doubt that a decade of attacks on al-Qaeda infrastructure, leadership, and cells has weakened it, the terrorist group does not appear to be going away.
As long as they are able to function in the inaccessible mountains of Pakistan, they will be a threat. Pretending otherwise for political purposes doesn't change that fact.