US kills 4 AQAP operatives in Yemen drone strike

The US launched its fourth drone strike in Yemen in the past 10 days, killing four al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula operatives in an area in central Yemen that is known to host jihadists. The strike takes place as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is at the core of an al Qaeda plot that forces the closure of more than 20 diplomatic facilities across the Middle East and Africa.

The remotely piloted Predators or the more deadly Reapers launched several missiles at a vehicle today as it was traveling in the Wadi Abeedah district in Marib province, according to the Yemen Post. The drones also struck a nearby compound, the news outlet reported.

Four AQAP operatives, including “an al-Qaeda leader,” are reported to have been killed in the strike on the vehicle. According to a tribal source, the dead included Saleh al-Tays al-Waeli and Saleh Ali Guti, AFP noted. Al Waeli was among those whose names appeared on a list of Yemen’s 25 most-wanted terrorists that was published yesterday.

AQAP leaders are known to operate in Marib. In June, the general director of Al Madina district in Marib Province claimed that top al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leaders Nasir al Wuhayshi, Said al Shihri, and Qassim al Raymi were present in his district.

The US has stepped up attacks in Yemen; today’s strike is the fourth in 10 days. The last strike, on Aug. 1, killed five AQAP fighters in the eastern province of Hadramout. On July 30, US drones killed three AQAP fighters, including a Saudi operative, in a strike in Shabwa province; a mid-level AQAP commander is reported to have been killed in the strike. The previous strike, on July 27, which is said to have killed six AQAP fighters in the Al Mahfad area in Abyan province, broke a seven-week pause in drone activity in Yemen.

The recent spike in attacks is likely related to the terror warning by the US that led to the closure of diplomatic facilities in Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. US officials said they have intercepted communications between al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri and Nasir al Wuhayshi, AQAP’s leader and al Qaeda’s general manager.

The strike also took place the day after the Yemeni government issued rewards of five million Yemeni Rials (an estimated $23,000) for 25 AQAP operatives who are “planning to carryout operations in the capital, Sana’a.”

“The Yemeni government has taken all necessary precautions to secure diplomatic facilities, vital installations and strategic assets,” according to a statement released by the Yemeni government.

Topping the list are Ibrahim Sulaiman al Rubaish, AQAP’s leading ideologue and theologian and a former Guantanamo Bay detainee, and Ibrahim Hassan al Asiri, the terror group’s top bomb maker who has designed devices that are said to be undetectable by traditional screening methods.

Background on US strikes in Yemen

The US has launched 16 drone strikes in Yemen so far this year, but the pace of the strikes has decreased since last year. In 2012, the US launched 41 drone strikes in Yemen against AQAP and its political front, Ansar al Sharia. The previous year, the US launched 10 drone and air strikes against the al Qaeda affiliate. The strikes are being reduced as the US government is facing increasing international criticism for conducting the attacks in both Yemen and Pakistan.

Although six senior AQAP operatives, including the group’s deputy emir, Said al Shihri, were killed in strikes in Yemen in 2012, the group’s top leadership cadre remains intact. Just two weeks ago, AQAP confirmed that al Shihri, a former detainee at Guantanamo Bay, was killed; he is thought to have died or to have been seriously wounded following a strike in October 2012.

The US has targeted not only senior AQAP operatives who pose a direct threat to the US, but also low-level fighters and local commanders who are battling the Yemeni government. This trend was first identified by The Long War Journal in the spring of 2012 [see LWJ report, US drone strike kills 8 AQAP fighters, from May 10, 2012]. Obama administration officials have claimed, however, that the drones are targeting only those AQAP leaders and operatives who pose a direct threat to the US homeland, and not those fighting AQAP’s local insurgency against the Yemeni government.

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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  • mike merlo says:

    You mean to tell me these Fumblelina’s in the Intelligence Community can’t simultaneously launch Drone ‘strikes’ against ‘our’ adversaries in the AfPak Theater or any other geographical area for that matter? Whatever happened to the Ballyhooed placement of SpecOps personnel in Uganda? Why is Boko Haram able to operate at will? What of this much vaunted CIA gun running Op that has now come to light in Libya? What of the so-called hundreds, if not thousand plus, of personnel ‘cohabitating’ in Iraq whose function or is it dysfunction it is to render assistance & training to Iraqi’s? And on and on it goes…based on all ‘we’ve seen’ to date I can only ‘surmise’ that The Administration has seen fit to place the Scarecrow from Oz in ‘directing’ Operations & locating the ‘source(s)’ from whence they’ve ‘sprung.’
    Images of VP Biden & ‘Director’ Brennan both blindfolded whilst gripping a Divining Rod with DNI Clapper in background mumbling incantations with fingertips tepidly ‘gracing’ an ouija board appear to be the methodology presently being applied.

  • Andrew says:

    @mike merlo
    Try to control your frothing at the mouth. I’m getting specks of foam on my shirt.
    Personally I think they’re closing in on this Nasir al Wuhaysh, maybe and it’d be great if they did, they nailed him. Whatever it may be, this is certainly directed related to the high-alert.

  • gitsum says:

    Now thats six good al Qeada, enjoy your stay in the deep six; loosers. Step it up dronesters!

  • Chances says:

    Maybe Washington does not care about Boko Haram because they operate in Nigeria. Not saying they are particularly racist or not. I think they are beyond that. The Washingtonian elite are just terminally smug, bored, and full of ennui. So to them Nigeria, Smigeria.
    They might point out that we do not need Nigerian oil. They might point to a high degree of political and economic corruption and crime in Nigeria.
    But demographically Nigeria is huge. It is figuratively a 800 pound gorilla. The way Nigeria goes is the way the surrounding countries go. If Nigeria goes, 1/4 to 1/3 rd of Africa could go with it. It is more than just demographics. We are connected culturally too. Music trends come to mind. The term juke box is deceived from West African word and the region still influences us currently. Sure Nigeria is underperforming. But have you seen our country lately?
    Nigeria might not be part of the BRIC crowd but it is regionally very important. Washington had better get its’ head out of its _zz and pay attention to Nigeria and engage Boko Haram.
    Until the leader ship of Boko Haram is no longer carrying out operations or recruiting,so long as their leaders aren’t fleeing for some wretched country for asylum and giving u the fight, then Washington is not doing enough. Boko Haram needs to know fear.

  • gitsum says:



Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram