Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula fighter Abdullah Bawazir, after his escape from a Yemeni prison in 2011. Image from the SITE Intelligence Group.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula recently eulogized a jihadist who was killed in a US drone strike late last year. The jihadist, Abdullah Bawazir, fought against US forces in Iraq and escaped from a Yemeni prison in June 2011.
The eulogy was released in the form of “a pictorial biography” by the Al Furqan Foundation, al Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula’s propaganda outlet, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which obtained and translated the information.
“The series of twelve images contained images and descriptions of Bawazir’s life as a combatant for both the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula,” according to the SITE Intelligence Group.
Bawazir was killed in the Dec. 24, 2012 drone strike in the town of Shehr in the eastern province of Hadramout, according to AQAP. Four AQAP fighters were killed after the remotely piloted US strike aircraft opened fire on a group that was driving motorcycles in the town [see LWJ report, US drone strikes kill Jordanian, Yemeni AQAP operatives]. Another jihadist identified as Nabil al Kaldi was also killed, according to AQAP.
“The mujahid martyr Abdullah Bawazir, he died on Monday night on 24-12-212 as a martyr, Allah permitting, as result of American bombing over the city of al-Shehr in Hadramout. He was buried with his brother Nabil al Kaldi who was martyred in the same raid and the people attending were in large masses,” the caption on one of the photos read.
Both Bawazir and al Kaldi were first reported to have been killed on Dec. 27, when a jihadist who served with them posted on the al Qaeda-linked Ansar al-Mujahideen forum. But few details were released about the fighters. [See LWJ report, Jihadist identifies 2 AQAP fighters killed in recent drone strike.]
AQAP claimed that Bawazir fought in Iraq and was imprisoned by the Yemeni government for five years upon his return from Iraq.
“He carried out heroic acts all over the Islamic State of Iraq,” AQAP stated, without providing further details of his activities. More than 1,800 Yemenis are known to have fought against the US in Iraq between 2003-2007, often with the support or approval of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s government.
“He stayed more than five years in the school of Yusif,” another caption stated, referring to the prison in Mukalla in Hadramout where Bawazir was detained before escaping with dozens of other terrorists on June 11, 2011. SITE noted that Bawazir featured in two AQAP propaganda videos that celebrated the Mukalla jailbreak.
After his escape, Bawazir “did jihad for several years with his Mujahideen brothers in the Arab Peninsula” before he was killed. Two of the photos showed Bawazir with other armed AQAP fighters.
So far this year, the US has launched three drone strikes against AQAP in Yemen. The US launched 41 drone strikes against AQAP and its political front, Ansar al Sharia, in Yemen in 2012. Although five senior AQAP operatives were killed in strikes in Yemen in 2012, the group’s top leadership cadre remains intact. The previous year, the US launched 10 drone and air strikes against the al Qaeda affiliate.
The US has targeted both senior AQAP operatives who pose a direct threat to the US, and low-level fighters and local commanders who are battling the Yemeni government. This trend was first identified by The Long War Journal in the spring of 2012 [see LWJ report, US drone strike kills 8 AQAP fighters, from May 10]. Obama administration officials have claimed that the drones are targeting only those AQAP leaders and operatives who pose a direct threat to the US homeland, and not those fighting AQAP’s local insurgency against the Yemeni government.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula continues to threaten the US and the West. The latest AQAP plot against the West, involving an underwear bomb that is nearly undetectable and was to be detonated on an airliner, was foiled in 2012. The terror group has planned multiple attacks against targets in the US. On Christmas Day, 2009, an AQAP underwear bomber nearly blew up an airline over Detroit. The plot failed as the bomber was unable to trigger the detonator.