WASHINGTON — The Associated Press has learned that the CIA has come closer to capturing or killing al-Qaida’s second-in-command than previously known.
Only Osama bin Laden is senior to Ayman al-Zawahiri in al-Qaida. Several current and former intelligence officials say the agency missed a chance to nab al-Zawahiri in 2003 in the northwest Pakistani city of Peshawar. He was meeting there with another senior al-Qaida leader who was apprehended the next day.
The officials also say the fugitive Egyptian doctor may also have narrowly survived a bombing by Pakistani military planes in 2004. A well-publicized U.S. missile strike aimed at him in 2006 also failed because he was not at the attack site.
The former and current officials insisted on anonymity because the hunt is classified.