Two days ago, Al Watan reported that Ibrahim al Asiri, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninisula’s master bomb maker, was wounded in the Aug. 10 drone strike in the southern Yemeni province of Lahj. According to Al Watan, the US drones truck a vehicle as it was parked under a bridge to avoid an attack; two people in the car were killed, another was badly wounded, and a fourth escaped.
A local Yemeni journalist took photos of the dead and wounded, and claimed one appeared to be that of al Asiri; Al Watan could not confirm the wounded man’s identity. The photo of the wounded man accompanied by al Asiri’s wanted image is reproduced above. Below is an excerpt of a translation of the Al Watan article that was obtained by The Long War Journal.
The sensational picture taken shows the wounded man whose injury has been described as extremely serious. The man’s face expressions look like the ones of Saudi national Ibrahim al Asiri, according to interpretative comparisons drawn with a published picture of al Asiri showing him as a wanted man.
An old wound characterizing the face expressions of the wounded man looks like a trademark scar standing next to his left eye.
Yet Al Watan paper has not been able to fully verify the identity of the two dead and the perplexing wounded man, as well as details on the latter.
But Mohammed Albasha, Yemen’s spokesman in Washington, DC, took to Twitter earlier this morning and denied the report:
Reports that #AQAP’s Chief Bombmaker, Ibrahim alAsiri, was killed or wounded are incorrect.
US military and intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal would neither confirm nor deny reports that al Asiri was wounded, but did say they are aware of them. One intelligence official confirmed that al Asiri has been a target of US drone strikes, but would not say if he was the focus of the attack in Lahj.
AQAP has not released a statement confirming or denying reports of al Asiri’s death. Given the intensity of the current US drone campaign in Yemen, don’t expect one anytime soon. The US has launched nine drone strikes in Yemen between July 27 and Aug. 10. The July 27 strike broke a seven-week pause in strikes in Yemen.