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 Yemen’s Top Al-Qaeda Leader Confirmed Dead
International

Yemen’s Top Al-Qaeda Leader Confirmed Dead

Al-Qaeda confirmed on Tuesday the leader of its offshoot in the Arabian Peninsula has been killed in a US drone strike in Yemen.

The death of Nasser al-Wuhayshi was announced by the AQAP in an online video. His successor was named as military chief Qasim al-Raymi.

Yemeni officials said Wuhayshi was believed to have been killed in a raid in Al-Qaeda-held Mukalla, in southeastern Yemen’s Hadramawt Province, BBC reported.

Witnesses said 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.

Wuhayshi was seen as Al-Qaeda’s second-in-command and was a former personal assistant to Osama bin Laden. He had built one of the most active Al-Qaeda branches, according to the US officials.

In Yemen, resurgent Al-Qaeda militants have seized territory and infrastructure, indirectly assisted by Saudi-led airstrikes in fight with Houthi forces.

Wuhayshi was seen as a major figure among militant groups, even among supporters of Al-Qaeda’s rival, Islamic State.

According to reports, in August 2013, Wuhayshi was appointed deputy of Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, a sign of the extent of his influence.

As well as creating AQAP itself, Wuhayshi also played a major role in forming the AQAP offshoot, Ansar al-Sharia, in 2011, to appeal to Yemeni youth.

Al-Qaeda in Libya also released on Tuesday a list of names of those they said were killed in a US airstrike over the weekend, with the list excluding Al-Qaida-linked commander Mokhtar Belmokhtar.

US officials on Monday said they believed they hit their target, but later said assessments were still underway.

A Libyan official said tests were needed to identify the dead, who numbered at least 17.

Believed to be 43 years old, he formed his own group and led the January 2013 attack on Algeria’s Ain Amenas gas complex that killed at least 35 hostages, including three Americans.

 

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