Written by Staff Writer
16 Jun, 2015 | 3:33 pm
Al-Qaeda has confirmed that Nasser al-Wuhayshi, the leader of its offshoot in the Arabian Peninsula, has been killed in a US drone strike in Yemen.
His death was announced by the AQAP group in an online video. His successor was named as military chief Qasim al-Raymi.
Wuhayshi was seen as al-Qaeda’s second-in-command and was a former private secretary to Osama Bin Laden.
He built one of the most active al-Qaeda branches, say US officials.
In Yemen, resurgent al-Qaeda militants have seized territory and infrastructure – indirectly assisted by Saudi-led air strikes on the rebel Houthi movement, their Shia Muslim foes.
But the deaths of a number of leading figures in AQAP in recent months have reportedly fuelled rumours among supporters that it has been successfully targeted by intelligence agencies.
The Yemeni news group al-Masdar Online previously reported (in Arabic) that Wuhayshi was killed in an attack in Hadramawt province last Friday.
The Pentagon has previously said it would not comment on the killing – which the Site intelligence group has said would constitute the biggest strike on al-Qaeda since Bin Laden’s death in Pakistan in 201
Yemeni officials said Wuhayshi was believed to have been killed in a raid in al-Qaeda-held Mukalla, in south-eastern Yemen’s Hadramawt province.
Witnesses were quoted as saying an explosion had killed three men on the seafront last Friday – and that al-Qaeda gunmen had quickly cordoned off the area and gathered the remains, leading them to believe a leader was among those killed.
The US State Department had offered a $10m (£6.4m) reward for anyone who could help bring Wuhayshi – who is believed to have been in his 30s – to justice.
It said he was “responsible for approving targets, recruiting new members, allocating resources to training and attack planning, and tasking others to carry out attacks”.
Wuhayshi, himself a Yemeni, travelled to Afghanistan in the late 1990s where he trained and went on to fight in the battle of Tora Bora in late 2001 before escaping into Iran.
There he was arrested and extradited to Yemen, where he was jailed until he escaped in 2006.
Source : BBC
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