A top leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is believed to have been killed in an air raid in southern Yemen. Officials with Yemen’s Defense Ministry say Said al-Shihri, the second in command of AQAP, died Monday with 5 other militants when a missile struck their vehicle in the Wadi Ain area of Hadramawt province. Authorities will confirm al-Shihri’s death through DNA testing.
According to reports, the air raid that killed al-Shihri was carried out by United States drones. The U.S. State Department has not confirmed al-Shihri’s death or the U.S.’s alleged involvement in the air strike.
Al-Shihri, a Saudi national, spent nearly 6 years in American custody at Guantanamo Bay after he was captured at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in December 2001. He was released to Saudi Arabia in November 2007 and spent two years in a rehabilitation program from jihadists. After his release from the program, al-Shihri traveled to Yemen where he re-joined al Qaeda and was named deputy leader behind Nasser al-Wahishi. The State Department said al-Shihri was a key player in “generating targets, recruiting new members, assisting with training and attack planning, and tasking others in the preparation of attacks.”
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