The Yemeni Defense Ministry claimed that an Egyptian named Ibrahim al Bana who served as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s “media chief” was killed last night in a US Predator airstrike. The report is unconfirmed. According to The Associated Press, the strike that killed Bana was one of five in Shabwa province in southern Yemen last night. Bana is said to have been killed in Azzan, one of several cities in the south under AQAP control. From AP:
The slain media chief, identified as Egyptian-born Ibrahim al-Bana, was killed along with six other militants in the southeastern province of Shabwa on Friday night, Yemen’s Defense Ministry said in a statement released Saturday. Security officials said an American drone carried out the attack, which was one of five overnight strikes that targeted suspected al-Qaida positions in Shabwa and the neighboring province of Abyan in Yemen’s largely lawless south.
Officials and tribal elders in the area said the strike followed a meeting of al-Qaida militants in a house in Azan, a district in Shabwa. A missile hit the house after the militants had already left, but a second strike targeted two sport utility vehicles in which the seven were traveling after the meeting.
The two vehicles were completely destroyed and the men’s bodies were charred, said the officials and the tribal elders speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media. It was not clear whether other participants in the meeting were targeted in separate strikes.
The Yemen Post also reported that Bana was killed, and claimed that “Abdul Rahman, the son of Anwar Awlaqi was also believed to be killed in the air strike.” Indian Express claimed that Sarhan al Quso, the brother of Fahd al Quso, a top operational commander for AQAP, was also killed. The reports are also unconfirmed.
It is unclear if Bana led the Malahim Media Foundation, AQAP’s media outlet. The founder of the Malahim Media Foundation, Nayef bin Mohammed bin Said al Kudri Qahtani, was killed in Yemen sometime in late 2010.
If Bana’s death is confirmed, he will be the third senior AQAP media official to have been killed in the past two weeks. On Sept. 30, American jihadists Anwar al Awlaki and Samir Khan were killed in a US Predator strike in Marib province. Awlaki was a top ideologue, recruiter, and operational commander for AQAP. Khan ran AQAP’s English-language media, including Inspire magazine.