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Top al Qaeda operative dead in drone attack in Pakistan

U.S. officials confirm to Fox News that Aslam Awan, also known as Abdullah Khorsani, a senior al-Qaeda external operations planner who was working on attacks against the West, was killed in a drone attack in Pakistan.

Awan, a Pakistani national from Abbottabad, Pakistan, where Usama bin Laden was found hiding, was targeted in a strike by a U.S.-operated drone on Jan. 10. News reports say the drone was directed at a compound near the town of Miranshah in the border province of North Waziristan.

Sources describe Awan as a significant figure in the remaining core leadership of al Qaeda, which U.S. officials say has been sharply reduced by the drone campaign.

"His death reduces al Qaeda's thinning bench of another operative devoted to plotting the death of innocent civilians," an official said. 

The drone attack breaks a two-month lull in the campaign.

Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.