On Nov. 23, a Twitter account affiliated with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) eulogized one of its slain fighters who was allegedly killed in a US drone strike, Abd al Baqi Ali Ahmad Ba Shaybah.
Known among his fellow AQAP fighters by the nom-de-guerre Abu Jaber al Houti, Abd al Baqi was a native of the Houta area in Shabwa province. He attempted to travel to Iraq during the US invasion in 2003, but was reportedly detained at the airport in Syria and prevented from continuing on to Iraq. Abd al Baqi subsequently returned to Yemen and then relocated to Saudi Arabia for work.
When Yemeni authorities began a military operation to detain al Qaeda leader Abdullah al Mihdar, presumably in January 2010, Abd al Baqi’s “proud soul could not be patiently sitting,” so he left his job in Saudi Arabia and returned to Yemen in support of al Mihdar. His eulogy claims that he arrived in Yemen at a time when the military campaign against Mihdar was still centered on Abd al Baqi’s native city of al Houta. According to the AQAP eulogy, he participated in the fighting and “at that time, the story of our martyr’s joining his mujahideen brothers in Yemen of faith and wisdom begins.”
Abd al Baqi went on to “participate…in the control of the city of Azzan in Shabwa,” presumably in June 2011, and also “participated in battles of Dawfas (Dofas) in Abyan,” which took place in August 2011. He was reportedly lightly wounded during the fighting in Abyan and returned to Azzan to receive medical treatment.
As soon as Abd al Baqi had healed, he and three other AQAP fighters drove a vehicle from Azzan in Shabwa to Abyan province and were then reportedly targeted by “a Crusader drone between the areas of al Mahfad and Ahwar.” His eulogy claims that Abd al Baqii was killed by the strike along with “two of his brothers,” while the fourth fighter was wounded.
Although AQAP did not announce the exact date of his death, it appears that Abd al Baqi might have been killed in the drone strike on Sept. 21, 2011. Reports at that time indicated that a US drone targeted a vehicle in Abyan’s Mahfad region, killing four AQAP fighters. Fahd al Quso, a top operational commander of AQAP who has been indicted for his role in the suicide attack on the USS Cole in December 2000 and was officially added to the list of designated terrorists in December 2010, is rumored to have been the target of that strike.
“The brother, the martyr, as we called him ‘Abu Jaber al Houti,’ Abd al Baqi Ali Ahmad Ba Shaybah.”
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