Written By: Shuaib M. Al Mosawa
Article Date: Jan 26, 2013 - 2:40:54 AM
Saeed Shihri, the number two man in the Yemen-based Al Qaeda group Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
The Yemeni government said in a statement released last Thursday that the number two man in the Yemen-based Al Qaeda group Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, was killed.
Locals and experts are suspicious of the news and have said that the government has announced his death three times before.
The Supreme National Security Committee of Yemen said that Saeed Shihri died “when security managed to conduct a qualitative operation in November 28 2012, in Sa’ada province, which resulted in Shihri’s succumbing to wounds received in a counter terrorism operation in the province of Saadah.”
The statement came after Saudi media reported on Jan. 22nd that Shihri was killed, according to his family in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi owned Al Arabiya news site said on Jan. 22nd that Shihri was killed along with two other militants after he was “gravely wounded in the second week of December 2012, which led to [Shihri’s] entering a coma until he died of his wounds and was buried in Yemen.”
Nevertheless, Al Qaeda-linked locals and experts were skeptical of the statement. Abdurazaq Al Jamal, a Yemeni journalist who reports mainly on the militant group, said the government statement was “inaccurate”.
“All that had been reported on Shihri’s death depended largely on the Saudi media leaks al-Arabyia which were in turn based on the Shihri family’s accounts,” said Al Jamal.
“The security committee has no resources other than that.”
Shihri’s death, foreign experts say, will serve as a major blow to the group that US considers the most active of global militant jihad networks.
But Al Jamal said that if Shihri was killed, the group will not be affected.
“The group is linked to a notion and not a person,” said Al Jamal, “and there are a lot [of the group’s leaders] who can fill his roles.”
The government statement described Shihri as follows: Saeed Ali Jabir Al Khathem Al Shihri, a citizen of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia who cofounded the militant group Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Furthermore, he commanded all Saudi operatives in AQAP and oversaw military operations against the Yemeni military in Abyan. Shihri was a coconspirator in a number of AQAP foreign operations and was possibly involved in the kidnappings and killings of foreigners in Yemen.
The government statement said that “Shihri who has survived multiple operations in the past, was buried in an undisclosed location inside Yemen by Al Qaeda linked militants as a strategy the organization adopts to maintain the morale of its elements”.
Al Qaeda-linked locals from Abyan province, one hotbed of the group, ruled out Government assertions of Shihri’s death.
One local, described by some as having been a former participant amongst the group militants’ years ago, had his own take on the news of Shihri’s death.
“They cannot fight the drones but with these rumors,” said the linked Al Qaeda linked man.
He also said that in order for the group to avoid further attacks on some key leaders, they tend to announce they are dead so that they can be struck off the kill list of the US drone campaign.
“Another reason for leaking this news [by the group],” said the local, “is that when the news eventually turns out to be false, it undermines the [American and Yemeni government’s] spies credibility.”
He said that he has seen a number of locals “alive” after they were reported to be killed.
He said it is difficult for anyone to verify the news on Shihri’s death.
“Anyone who wants to make sure of his death will be in trouble with al-Qaeda.”
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