AQAP deputy emir Said al Shihri likely killed in US drone strike


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.

Reports from Yemen indicate that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s deputy emir and former Guantanamo Bay detainee Said al Shihri died from wounds suffered in a drone strike late last year.

The SITE Intelligence Group noted today that “prominent jihadist Abdullah bin Muhammad” released a statement announcing al Shihri’s death:

I send to the Ummah news of the martyrdom of Sheikh Saeed al-Shahri after a long journey in fighting the Zio-Crusader campaign.

Muhammad’s statement carries considerable weight as he was, as the SITE Intelligence Group astutely notes, the person who “released missing audio from the AQAP video ‘Jihad of the Ummah’ that announced a bounty on American Ambassador to Yemen, Gerald M. Feierstein.”

Also today, a correspondent from Al Arabiya claimed that Shihri died after being wounded during a US raid in December and then slipping into a coma:

According to an Al Arabiya correspondent, Shihri’s family said he was severely injured after a joint Yemeni-U.S. operation targeting al-Qaeda members in Yemen in the second week of December, 2012.

After falling into a coma, Shihri was later declared dead and was buried in Yemen.

Considered together, the statements by Muhammad and by the family make it very likely that Shihri is indeed dead. AQAP hasn’t released an official statement at this time, but if he is indeed dead, you can expect the group to release one.

Al Shihri has been reported killed or captured several times in the past. Most recently, On Sept. 10, 2012, the Yemeni military claimed that he was killed in a military operation. Al Shihri released a statement on Oct. 20, 2012 in which he denied the reports of his death. In February 2011, he was rumored to have been killed while working with explosives. In January 2010, Yemeni officials claimed that al Shihri was captured. And in December 2009, al Shihri was said to have been killed by a US cruise missile attack.

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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