Yemeni military claims 2 senior AQAP commanders killed in south

Saba Net and Almotamar, two media outlets that are operated by the Yemeni government, are claiming that Yemeni troops have killed two top al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leaders. The two leaders are said to have been killed during fighting in Abyan (presumably in Zinjibar, the provincial capital that is under AQAP control):

Two leaders of al-Qaeda have been killed in Abyan province, a security source in the province said on Wednesday.

The two terrorists were Aidh al Shabwani and Awadh Mohammed Saleh al Shabwani, who have been killed among many other terrorists in the clashes between the armed forces and the terrorist organization currently taking place in Abyan, the source said.

The source said that the military forces have managed to arrest “Abdul Rahman Mohammed Dawa’n”, one of al-Qaeda members, who is wanted besides others for killing ten soldiers in an ambush in Mukairas, Abyan, on June 6.

“The military forces are keeping on hunting the terrorists of al-Qaeda”, the source said, adding that dozens of them have been killed and many others wounded during the combing operations.

Aidh al Shabwani has previously been described as the leader of AQAP forces in Marib province.

Like reports from Pakistani officials, reports from Yemeni officials should be taken with a grain of salt. Over the past several years, Yemeni officials have had a terrible track record with their reports of slain AQAP leaders. Top AQAP leaders Nasir al Wuhayshi, Said al Shihri, Qasim al Raymi, Anwar al Awalki, and others have been reported killed in various Yemeni operations and US airstrikes. The reports have since turned out to be false.

Aidh al Shabwani was also the subject of a false death report. He was reported to have been killed in a Jan. 15, 2010 strike that was also said to have killed Qasim al Raymi and Ammar Abadah Nasser al Wa’eli. All three men men were later confirmed to be alive.

With that said, Yemeni officials were correct on the recent reports of the deaths of three AQAP commanders. On June 9, officials told Almotamar that Wa’eli, Ali Abdullah Naji al Harithi, and Ali Saleh Farhan were killed while fighting Yemeni troops in Zinjibar. The New York Times. meanwhile, claimed Harithi was killed in a US airstrike.

AQAP confirmed that the three men were indeed killed in Zinjibar when it released martyrdom statements for the three terrorists in its latest edition of Inspire. AQAP said Harithi and Wa’eli were killed in a US airstrike, and that Farhan was killed while fighting Yemeni troops.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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