|Top Al Qaeda commander killed for the THIRD time: U.S air strike 'finally' gets terror boss in Yemen|
[Daily Mail] A senior jihadist believed to be behind a deadly bombing at the U.S. embassy in Yemen has been reported killed, the third time his death has been announced.
Said al-Shihri, the second in command of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), was reportedly killed in an in Yemen in December, according to a news report by Arabic television network Al Arabiya.
Yemen Post sez it was November, but why quibble?
According to the report, the Saudi-born died after sustaining severe injuries from a joint U.S.-Yemeni that targeted his convoy.
The al Arabiya account, based on information from 'family sources', said al-Shihri went into a coma and allegedly died soon after.
It is the third time he has been reported killed. In 2009 it was announced that he was killed by an American cruise missile and in September 2012, Yemeni news sites reported he was eliminated by a U.S. drone strike.
On the other hand, he's only gotta be dead once. See how that works?
Al-Shihri was in Guantanamo Bay for six years after being captured in fighting in Afghanistan.
... where, as everyone knows, all the inmates are innocent.
He caused controversy in the U.S. after he was released back to his in 2007 and underwent a Saudi rehabilitation programme for Islamic s, almost immediately returning to terrorist activity on his release.
Al-Shihri is also reported to have been involved in the kidnapping of foreigners in Yemen and was allegedly the behind the 2008 embassy bombing.
AQAP, a highly active branch of Al Qaeda, was behind a aimed at the British ambassador in Yemen in April 2010, and a rocket fired at a British embassy vehicle in October 2010.
The Yemeni army, supported by the U.S., has been fighting Islamist in the south of the country for months.
The took large parts of the south of Yemen after president was ousted in February 2012.
|Qaeda reveals details of Saudi failed murder|
|[Al Arabiya] Al-Qaeda said Tuesday that they had narrowly missed Deputy Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz in an attack last year as he flew into the Yemeni capital Sanaa on a visit.|
In a video message posted on the Internet, the group said it had attempted to target the visiting Saudi delegation with a surface-to-air missile and had also planned to shell the welcoming ceremony at the airport.
Saudi prominent writer Yehia al-Amir commented on the release of al-Qaeda video at this specific time saying that al-Qaeda were trying to make propaganda for themselves. "It was the first operation to target a Saudi leader, individually, inside the kingdom. It is a kind of show-off on the part of al-Qaeda, to show their potentials and capabilities," he told Al Arabiya.
|Al Qaeda revives across a growing arc of terror|
|Bored, depressed and stuck in a dead-end job, Khaled al-Bawardi spent just a few hours watching jihadi videos to convince himself that he wanted to fight for militant Islam. It took another six years in Guantanamo Bay, plus a year in religious rehab in Saudi Arabia, to realise there might be better career options. When I was young, I thought these people were angels and we had to follow them,' said Mr Bawardi, formerly Inmate 68 at Guantanamo and one of hundreds of Saudi al Qaeda suspects arrested after the US invasion of Afghanistan. Now, though, I can see between right and wrong.' |
Quietly-spoken, and dressed in a traditional Arab robe and keffiya, Mr Bawardi is an alumnus of the Prince Mohammed bin Nayef Centre for Counselling and Care outside Riyadh, where for the last two years, batches of former Guantanamo inmates have undergone religious deprogramming' in exchange for their liberty. With its swimming pool, games rooms and therapy courses such as 10 Steps Toward Positive Thinking', it resembles a jihadist's version of London's Priory clinic. Yet like any rehab programme, it also has its recidivists - and Batch 10, to which Mr Bawardi belonged, is a case in point.
The tenth group of Saudis to be flown back from Guantanamo Bay, no less than five of the original 14 who passed through the programme absconded to neighbouring Yemen to re-embrace terrorism. To the embarrassment of their mentors, and the dismay of Washington, one Batch 10 member, Said al-Shihri, has since re-surfaced as no less than deputy leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the movement's new Yemen-based branch. Such relapses' show how, more than eight years since 9-11, al-Qaeda has confounded its doomsayers with both its resilience and its ever-spreading presence.
When Batch 10 first arrived back at Riyadh airport two years ago, Western diplomats and intelligence officials were becoming increasingly confident that the movement was on its back foot. Last week, though, as diplomats gathered in London for crisis meetings on the future of both Afghanistan and Yemen, the mood was rather less upbeat. Like a global franchise, outlets of the movement have begun baring their teeth throughout a giant arc across Africa and the Middle East, finding new homes in places where the writ of government is weak or non-existent.
|Yemen al-Qaeda link to Guantanamo Bay prison|
|The failed Detroit airliner bomb attack on Christmas Day awakened the world to the threat from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), a group that until then was hardly a household name.|
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a young Nigerian who allegedly came within an ace of killing almost 300 passengers and crew with a bomb hidden in his underwear, said he had been trained and sent by its leaders.
US President Barack Obama's embarrassment and anger at the potentially catastrophic failure of intelligence which allowed Mr Abdulmutallab to board the plane has been compounded by the revelation that two of AQAP's founders, Said al-Shihri and Mohammed al-Awfi, were both former Guantanamo detainees.
Several AQAP foot soldiers are also former Guantanamo prisoners.
This only confirms the fears of critics vehemently opposed to Mr Obama's promise to close the prison camp by the end of this month.
In total, 120 Saudi detainees have been repatriated from Guantanamo.
Mr Obama's dilemma is dramatically illustrated by a BBC investigation into what happened to the 14 detainees of Batch 10, who were flown home to Saudi Arabia just over two years ago.
The Saudi government's aim was to put them through its controversial de-radicalisation or Care programme, with a view to rehabilitating its "beneficiaries" in society.
Of the 120 Saudi returnees, 111 of them have gone through the Care programme - the other nine returned to the Kingdom before the scheme was set up.
The government claims a 90% success rate and says that only 10 of the former Guantanamo detainees absconded, crossing the border into Yemen.
But Batch 10 certainly does not fit this picture.
When the Saudi 747 jet carrying them landed in Riyadh, its passengers were greeted by the authorities not as heroes but as "victims" who had been brainwashed and misled by a deviant ideology.
All went through the Care programme, but five later escaped to Yemen. There two of them, al-Shihri and al-Awfi, helped set up AQAP and then took part in the organisation's launch video.
|Yemen to Hold Six Returned Detainees Indefinitely|
The arrangement, however, has done little to blunt calls from both Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill for the White House to freeze the repatriation of any of the roughly 90 Yemeni nationals still being held at the U.S. detention facility in Cuba, due to fears they could resort to terrorism.
"All transfers of Yemeni detainees should stop," said Sen. Joe Lieberman (I., Conn.) He said he will ask Defense Secretary Robert Gates for an explanation of how the U.S. tracks Guantanamo detainees after they are released and for an accounting of what happened to the six Yemenis recently released to Yemen.
Obama administration officials said this weekend that the U.S. reached an agreement with Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to ensure that the six Guantanamo Bay detainees released last month will remain in the Sana'a government's custody for the "foreseeable future."
"We wouldn't transfer these detainees unless we were comfortable with the security arrangements," said a U.S. official.
"Some of these individuals are going to be transferred back to Yemen at the right time and the right pace and in the right way," the White House's counterterrorism chief, John Brennan, said on CNN's "State of the Union."
"We continue to work with the Yemeni government, and we do this in a very common-sense fashion because we want to make sure that we are able to close Guantanamo," he added.
Political debate over Mr. Obama's plans for shutting Guantanamo has gained new momentum following the Christmas Day attempt to bomb a U.S. airliner on its approach to Detroit. The Nigerian man arrested in the incident, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, has told U.S. law-enforcement authorities that he was trained and armed by Islamic militants based in Yemen. Al Qaeda's Yemen-based affiliate, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, has publicly claimed responsibility for the plot and pledged to launch more strikes against U.S. interests.
U.S. counterterrorism officials say some of Al Qaeda in Yemen's top operatives are former Guantanamo Bay detainees who were released in recent years. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's deputy commander, Said al-Shihri, was repatriated to Saudi Arabia in 2007 to take part in a government-run rehabilitation program, according to these officials. The group's chief cleric, Ibrahim Suleiman al-Rubaish, also was repatriated by the Bush administration to Saudi Arabia before crossing the border into Yemen.
One of those released, Ayman Batarfi, is a Yemeni doctor who told Pentagon interrogators that he had twice met Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan and endured the U.S. military assault on the Tora Bora mountains in late 2001, according to Pentagon documents. Mr. Batarfi also said he had assisted a Malaysian microbiologist, Yazid Sufaat, in seeking to purchase equipment for a medical facility in Kandahar, Afghanistan. U.S. officials have subsequently accused Mr. Sufaat of seeking to produce anthrax and other biological weapons on behalf of al Qaeda. Mr. Sufaat was arrested in Malaysia, but never charged there.
Mr. Batarfi and the five other Yemenis released last month all denied ties to al Qaeda or the Taliban and pledged not to pick up arms against the U.S., according to Pentagon documents. But a growing number of Democratic and Republican lawmakers are saying that the national-security risks posed by repatriating more Yemenis has grown too great given the high rate of recidivism among Guantanamo Bay detainees.
"When you look at the bios and the case histories of the men returned last month, you'll see they're very dangerous people," said Rep. Frank Wolf (R., Va.), who received a classified briefing on these detainees' files.
Rep. Jane Harman, a California Democrat who heads a House Homeland Security intelligence subcommittee, said many of the remaining Yemenis should probably be detained at a new federal penitentiary the Obama administration is building outside Chicago.
Obama administration officials have said in recent days that the six Yemenis released last month had passed through an extensive interagency review process before being released. They also said the White House has received no information that any of the roughly 42 Guantanamo Bay detainees released by the Obama administration in the past year have returned to the fight.
|Al-Qaeda in Yemen Expands Operations|
|[Asharq al-Aswat] Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which claimed responsibility for the attempted attack on a U.S. airliner bound for Detroit, is led by a Yemeni who was once a close aide to Osama bin Laden.|
The group formed in January this year, when leader Naser Abdel Karim al-Wahishi announced a merger between operatives from Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Al-Wahishi, who goes by the alias Abu Basir, was among 23 al-Qaeda figures who escaped from a Yemeni prison in 2006. He is on Saudi Arabia's most wanted list, which includes many militants currently in Yemen.
At least two former detainees released in November 2007 from the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have resurfaced as al-Qaeda commanders in Yemen. Said al-Shihri, who was released from a Saudi rehabilitation program last year, is a deputy leader of the organization in Yemen. Another former Guantanamo inmate, Abu al-Hareth Muhammad al-Oufi, surfaced in January in a video clip showing him sporting a bandolier of bullets as an al-Qaeda field commander.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has been blamed for a series of attacks in Yemen, including an assault against the U.S. embassy in San'a, and suicide bombings targeting South Korean visitors. Recently, the group indicated it was ready to take its fight beyond Yemen. The government there said the Nigerian accused in the Christmas day attack on the U.S. airliner visited Yemen this year. In claiming responsibility for that attack, al-Qaeda urged supporters to get the "infidels" out of the Arabian peninsula. The call echoed Osama bin Laden, who criticized Saudi Arabia for hosting American military bases.
The group's first operation outside Yemen was carried out in Saudi Arabia this August against the kingdom's counterterrorism chief, though that bomb attack failed.
Experts believe the al-Qaeda fighters number in the low hundreds. The group appears to be well funded and has found sanctuaries among a number of Yemeni tribes, particularly in three eastern provinces.
|Al-Qaeda group in Yemen gaining prominence|
|The al-Qaeda branch linked to the attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound Northwest Airlines flight has for the past year escalated efforts to exploit Yemen's instability and carve out a leadership role among terrorist groups, say Yemeni and Western officials, terrorism analysts, and tribal leaders. |
U.S. authorities say Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab, the Nigerian suspect who tried to ignite explosive chemicals with a syringe sewn into his underwear, may have been equipped and trained by an al-Qaeda bombmaker in Yemen. He allegedly made that claim to FBI agents after his arrest. If the claim is true, it represents a significant increase in the activities of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the emergence of a major new threat to the United States, the Middle East and the Horn of Africa.
The group has yet to notch a catastrophic attack against the United States or its allies, suggesting that the organization is still too weak to operate effectively outside Yemen. Yet despite operative failures and setbacks, it has shown a resilience and ability to quickly regroup and cause havoc inside the country.
The branch appears to be trying to fill a void left by al-Qaeda's central body, led by Osama bin Laden, which has been weakened by military assaults in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Although the branch mostly operates independently, AQAP leader Nasir al-Wuhayshi, who comes from a wealthy family and once served as bin Laden's personal secretary, is believed to have strong contacts with the al-Qaeda head, analysts say.
U.S. and Yemeni officials say Wuhayshi and his deputy, Said al-Shihri, a Saudi national and former detainee at the U.S facility at Guantanamo Bay, were at the meeting, along with Anwar al-Aulaqi, the radical Yemeni American cleric linked to the gunman charged with killing 13 people at Fort Hood, Tex., Nov. 5. The fate of the three men is still unknown. Eyewitnesses and tribal leaders in the area expressed doubts that the men had died or were even at the meeting
The current AQAP generation has its roots in a February 2006 jailbreak of 23 prisoners from a maximum-security prison in Sanaa, the capital. U.S. and Yemeni officials said the prisoners were aided by Yemeni intelligence officials sympathetic to al-Qaeda. The escapees included Wuhayshi and several high-profile operatives behind the Cole bombings. Wuhayshi, who is believed to be in his early 30s and to have fought alongside bin Laden in Afghanistan, soon began to rebuild the branch.
Until a year ago, the branch mostly targeted tourists, missionaries, oil installations and other soft targets in Yemen. In November 2008, heavily armed al-Qaeda gunmen attacked the U.S. Embassy, detonating a car bomb that left 16 dead, including six of the assailants. The embassy attack, analysts and officials said, was believed to have been a direct order from bin Laden. Two months later, the Yemeni and Saudi Arabian branches of al-Qaeda merged to create AQAP.
Today, the branch has about 100 core operatives, most in their 20s and 30s. But it has countless sympathizers and immense tribal support in southern and eastern provinces, said Abdulelah Hider Shaea, a Yemeni journalist with close ties to al-Qaeda. Shaea, who interviewed Wuhayshi in an al-Qaeda hideout earlier this year, said he saw several Muslims with Australian, German and French citizenships. In a report to parliament last week, Deputy Prime Minister for Defense and Security Rashad al-Alimi said militants killed in a Dec. 17 airstrike included Yemenis, Saudis, Pakistanis and Egyptians. U.S. officials have said some militants are leaving Pakistan and Afghanistan to fight in Yemen.
Since the merger, AQAP has improved its abilities to spread its message. It has an online magazine called Sada al-Malahim, or "the echo of epic battles," and regularly beams videos and communiques to Web sites and jihadist forums. On Oct. 29, AQAP published an article in its online magazine saying "that whoever wants to carry out jihad with us," the group would "guide him in the appropriate way to kill."
The group has launched five attacks this year, compared with 22 in 2008, Western diplomats said. But the targets have been higher-profile. In August, the branch dispatched a Saudi suicide bomber with explosives hidden on or in his body who slipped past airport security checkpoints and nearly killed Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the head of the kingdom's counterterrorism operations. The bomber, according to some reports, used the same chemical explosives that Abdulmuttalab allegedly did. Last month, AQAP militants ambushed and killed three senior Yemeni security officers and four bodyguards in Hadramawt province. And last week, Alimi said the branch was planning to launch suicide bombings against the British Embassy and foreign schools.
On Sunday, AQAP issued a communique declaring that it would take revenge for the Dec. 17 airstrikes.