AQAP chief Nasir al Wuhayshi reported killed in southern Yemen


Nasir al Wuhayshi, the leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Image from the SITE Intel Group.

Yemeni military officials claimed that Nasir al Wuhayshi, the head of al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, was killed during recent fighting in the south. The report has not been confirmed.

Military officials in the 201st Brigade and medical personnel claimed that Wuhayshi’s body was brought to the Basuhaib Military Hospital in Aden on Sunday. The body brought to the hospital “matches the features” of Wuhayshi, according to a report in Aden Online. No photograph has been released of the corpse that is thought to be Wuhayshi, however.

The 201st Brigade has been fighting al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula outside Zinjibar, the provincial capital of Abyan. Zinjibar and the southern Yemeni cities of Sharqa and Azzan, as well as vast regions in the south, are under the control of AQAP.

Wuhayshi is said to have been killed along with several other AQAP commanders and fighters in the Dawfas (or Dofes) area between the cities of Aden and Zinjibar. Fighting in Dawfas was reported today; four Yemeni soldiers and three “gunmen” were killed during the clash, according to AFP. The gunmen “were brought in by the army” to a military hospital in Aden.

Today’s clash in Dawfas is the second in two days between Yemeni forces and AQAP. On Aug. 27, AQAP fighters killed seven Yemeni soldiers during an ambush in the area.

Wuhayshi has previously been reported dead by Yemeni military officials, only to resurface on AQAP propaganda tapes. In December 2009, the Yemeni military claimed that Wuhayshi, his deputy Said al Shihri, and Anwar al Awlaki, the American cleric who directs attacks against the US, were killed as they gathered for a high-level meeting at Awlaki’s home. All three AQAP leaders re-emerged to deny reports of their death.

Before becoming the head of al Qaeda’s affiliate in the Arabian Peninsula, Wuhayshi served as Osama bin Laden’s aide-de-camp. He was one of 23 al Qaeda operatives to escape from a Yemeni jail in 2006. He is considered to be a top contender to take command of the global terror network if al Qaeda’s central leadership based in Pakistan is decapitated, a senior US military intelligence official who closely tracks al Qaeda’s network told The Long War Journal.

Wuhayshi was recently heard from, when he released an audiotape on July 26 swearing allegiance to Ayman al Zawahiri, the new leader of al Qaeda. Wuhayshi pledged that he and the AQAP fighters under his command would follow Zawahiri’s orders and fight “the enemies without leniency or surrender until Islam rules.”

Under Wuhayshi’s orders, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has created Ansar al Sharia, the political front for its operations in Yemen. Ansar al Sharia is analogous to al Qaeda’s Islamic State of Iraq. On Aug. 20, Ansar al Sharia released a videotape of a suicide attack in Aden that killed five Yemeni soldiers.

For more information on Ansar al Sharia, AQAP’s rise in southern Yemen, and US counterterrorism efforts, see LWJ report, US ‘drones’ kill 15 al Qaeda fighters in southern Yemen.

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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  • CC says:

    This is amazing news if true. I was just watching a 9/11 Special that was talking about him. I have little faith in the Yemeni’s so I will keep my fingers crossed. But if he and #2 are dead, Al-Qaeda is all but irrelevent.

  • Why is Saudi Arabia holding back in this conflict? Could it be that the real rulers of Saudi Arabia want an al Qaeda that was the creation of Wahabbism to rule in Yemen? Could it be that the real rulers of Saudi Arabia want a Wahabbi based Islam to rule the world? Connert the dots its not hard.

  • Infidel4LIFE says:

    “until ISLAM RULES..” thats quite a statement. Thats why these people are so dangerous, they want to export their convoluted version of the Koran and take us back to 1100AD. There is no talking with these people, since the only real language they understand comes from the barrel of a gun.

  • ArneFufkin says:

    @Alphonse: One can only imagine the treachery and intrigue within the House of Saud.

  • JRP says:

    Regarding the “Al-Qaeda is all but irrelevent” notion, extreme caution right there. That is precisely what AQ wants us to think, especially just before the 10th anniversary of 9/11. When all those Government officials that have opinionated that another attack is not a matter of “if”, but of “when”, change their minds and signal the “all clear”, then I’ll relax. Until then though, best relentlessly keep after AQ, especially Zawahiri.

  • David Verbryke says:

    I dearly hope this is true, but like the people in this respective forum, I do not trust the Yemenis or the Saudis, who have helped al-Qa’ida for years and seems to have helped several of the USS Cole bombing out of their prisons. IMHO we need to use our best special forces and go in there and kill Anwar al-Awlaki, Sheikh Qarawdari, Mustafa Khalifa, and others. They need to be eliminated with extreme prejudice just as bin Laden was. The al-Qa’ida brand has been damaged and we must encourage this debranding of these lethal scumbags.

  • Emile Nitrate says:

    Why isn’t this a bigger story?

  • JRP says:

    Further thought . . . It might just be that people like Kashmiri and Rahman are indeed dead, but in our interest to foster disinformation from Pakistani sources to the effect that they are still alive. Whereas proof of death would spur claims to the throne and, thus, keep AQ/Taliban going, doubts as to whether or not a leader is dead put AQ/Taliban into stall-speed. Patience is one category where the enemy has us at a disadvantage for so long as we stay out of the tribal areas. If our targets reportedly killed are still alive and in hiding, they are content to wait us out for another 10 years; or 20; or longer.

  • CTSME says:

    He isn’t dead.
    And about the Saudis….they have done more to help the US fight AQ then anyone else in the world the last 10 years.

  • Zeissa says:

    Infidel4Life: Convoluted?
    Now I agree even Mohammed, who routinely got revelations of why killing PoWs and ignoring agreements was acceptable when it just coincidentally happened to be convenient for him strategically and militarily, would be shocked by the current behavior of Islamists, but given the above described behavior of Mohammed and allowing for the fact that he was often in quite a good strategic position… I find it very believable that if unable to achieve victory through conventional means wherein he only commited crimes against Prisoners of War and some civilians (including assassinations of poets, philosophers, etc) that he would have gone further.
    Then again he didn’t do the majority of those things personally (unlike the also totally verifiable pedophilia (under the excuse that the marriage with the 6-year old Aisha would be invalid otherwise)), though he did order them, so maybe he would have been disgusted by them and chosen not to. Though it should be noted that use of assassins and breaching agreements, even for religious reasons, was frowned upon back then as much as now (though it happened more).


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