Said al Shihri, from the second edition of Inspire, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s propaganda magazine, which was obtained by The Long War Journal.
The Yemeni military claimed that Said al Shihri, a former Guantanamo detainee and the current deputy emir of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, was killed in a recent military operation in Hadramout province. The report has not been confirmed.
Al Shihri is said to have been killed in a military operation in the Wadi al Ain area of Hadramout province, according to SABA (Yemen News Agency), which referenced a report at the website of the Yemeni Ministry of Defense.
“A security official quoted by the ministry’s website as saying that the military forces carried out an operation in Wadi Hadramout ended up with killing Saudi national “Saeed Ali al-Shihri” along with six other militants who were with him,” SABA reported.
The Yemeni military took credit for the Sept. 5 airstrike in Hadramout that targeted a vehicle and is reported to have killed six AQAP fighters. However, the strike was carried out by the US’s fleet of unmanned Predators and Reapers based in the area, a US intelligence official told The Long War Journal. US drones have zeroed in on Hadramout province over the past month. Of the seven recorded strikes since the beginning of August, five have taken place in the eastern province.
US officials have not commented on reports of al Shihri’s death. AQAP has not released a martyrdom statement announcing his death. In the past, AQAP has announced the deaths of senior leaders quickly.
Al Shihri has been reported killed several times in the past. Most recently, In February 2011, he was rumored to have been killed while working with explosives. Al Shihri was also said to have been killed in a US cruise missile attack in December 2009. And in January 2010, Yemeni officials claimed that al Shihri was captured.
Shihri is a Saudi citizen who was detained by the US and transferred to Guantanamo Bay for his connections to al Qaeda. He had served as an “al Qaeda travel facilitator” in Mashad, Iran, where he would help al Qaeda operatives enter Afghanistan. He was also connected to the Saudi ‘charity’ al Wafa, which has been designated under Executive Order 13224 as a terrorist organization and is briefly mentioned in the 9/11 Commission’s report as an al Qaeda front.
In November 2007, Shihri was released from Guantanamo and placed into Saudi custody, where he then entered a government-run rehabilitation program for former jihadists. Less than a year later, Shihri played a direct role in al Qaeda’s attack on the American embassy in Sana’a, Yemen’s capital, in September 2008. That attack killed 10 civilians, along with six terrorists.
In February 2009, when Al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia and Al Qaeda in Yemen merged to form Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Shihri was named as deputy to AQAP emir Nasir al Wuhayshi.
For more information on Said al Shihri, see LWJ report, Return to Jihad.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.