Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula released a martyrdom statement for a military commander who was killed in one of several US drone strikes launched last summer following the emergence of a threat of attacks on US diplomatic facilities.
AQAP released the biography of Sarhan Abdullah Ali al Nasi, also known as Khishiman, on May 12 on its Twitter feed, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which obtained and translated the statement.
Khishiman was one of seven people killed in the Aug. 7, 2013 drone strike that took place in the Markha area of Shabwa province. Two vehicles were targeted in the strike. [See LWJ report, US strikes twice in Yemen, kills 11 AQAP operatives in drone attacks.]
Khishiman was killed during a spate of strikes that coincided with a terror warning by the US that led to the closure of diplomatic facilities in Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia in July and August 2013. US officials said they had intercepted communications between al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri and Nasir al Wuhayshi, AQAP’s leader and al Qaeda’s general manager, that indicated a major plot was underway.
Khishiman’s path to jihad began sometime before 2007, when he was arrested by the Yemeni government for attempting to travel to Iraq to fight US and international forces, and imprisoned at a jail in Sana’a. While in prison, “he met Sheikh Anwar al Awlaki,” the American AQAP ideologue, recruiter, and operational commander who also was later killed in a US drone strike. Awlaki spoke to Khsihiman about “project of jihad” while in jail, and clearly recruited him to join al Qaeda. Awlaki was imprisoned for 18 months between 2006 and 2007 for his involvement in a plot to kidnap the US military attache in Sana’a.
After spending nine months in prison, Khishiman “joined the mujahideen in the Arabian Peninsula,” and served as a driver. He later “joined the camps of the mujahideen in Shabwa,” where he “participated in a number of specialized courses, including the course of execution in cities and special operations.”
Khishiman fought with AQAP during its campaign in 2011 to take control of Abyan province, and was “wounded during the storming of the 25th Mechanized Brigade.” That Yemeni brigade was based in Zinjibar, and AQAP laid siege to the unit’s base before taking full control of the city.
Qasim al Raymi, AQAP’s top military commander and cofounder of the group who is on the US’ list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists, appointed Khishiman to serve on the group’s “Military Committee.” That committee is responsible for coordinating AQAP military operations throughout the country.
While on the Military Committee, Khishiman “engaged in special courses in arts of organizational and military administration.” Additionally, he served as AQAP’s emir for the northern Yemeni provinces of Al Jawf and Saada.