AQAP operative Fahd al Quso denies reports of his death
Fahd Mohammed Ahmed al Quso (right), along with the journalist from Al Sharq al Awsat.
A top leader of al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen who was rumored to have been killed in a US Predator airstrike in Pakistan has spoken to the media to quash the reports of his death.
Fahd Mohammed Ahmed al Quso, a top operational commander of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula who has been indicted for his role in the suicide attack on the USS Cole in December 2000, recently granted an interview with Al Sharq al Awsat.
Quso spoke to a reporter from the Saudi newspaper in the mountains of Shabwa province, "where he is hiding and protected by his (Al-Awlaqi) tribes." Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula maintains safe havens in Shabwa, as well as in the provinces of Sana'a, Abyan, and Aden.
Quso described the reports of his death as "rumor" and expressed surprise that he was reported to have been in Pakistan's Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan.
The interview with Al Sharq al Awsat confirms the reports by The Long War Journal that have expressed skepticism about reports he had been killed. On Oct. 9, US intelligence officials warned The Long War Journal that the US has been unable to confirm Quso's death, while al Qaeda did not release a martyrdom statement announcing his death.
Fahd Mohammed Ahmed al Quso.
On Dec. 7, after the US State Department placed Quso on the list of specially designated global terrorists, Jason Blazakis, the chief of the State's Terrorist Designations Unit, told The Long War Journal that Quso is thought to be alive.
"We wouldn't have designated him if we believed him deceased," Blazakis said.
Quso has been linked to multiple terror plots in Yemen and provided funds to one of the key planners of the Sept. 11 attacks on the US. He has been in and out of Yemeni custody, and was last freed in 2007, despite US pleas to the Yemeni government to detain him and transfer him to the US for trial in his role in the attack on the USS Cole in the port of Aden, Yemen, in October 2000. The suicide attack on the warship killed 17 US sailors.
For more information on Fahd Mohammed Ahmed al Quso and his role in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, see LWJ reports, US adds AQAP operative Fahd Quso to terrorist list and Al Qaeda leader linked to Iran may have been killed in recent Predator strike.