Al Qaeda chief killed in US strike

al qaeda chief killed.Wuhayshi was seen as al-Qaeda’s second-in-command and was a former personal assistant to Osama Bin Laden.

He built one of the most active al-Qaeda branches, say US officials.

In Yemen, resurgent al-Qaeda militants have seized territory and infrastructure – indirectly assisted by Saudi-led air strikes on the rebel Houthi movement, their Shia Muslim foes.

But the deaths of a number of leading figures in AQAP in recent months have reportedly fuelled rumours among supporters that it has been successfully targeted by intelligence agencies.

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Analysis: Murad Batal al-Shishani, Islamic groups analyst, BBC

Nasser al-Wuhayshi was a major global figure among jihadists – even supporters of al-Qaeda’s rival Islamic State viewed Wuhayshi with respect.

According to reports, in August 2013 Wuhayshi was appointed deputy of al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, a sign of the extent of his influence.

As well as creating AQAP itself, Wuhayshi also played a major role in forming the AQAP off-shoot, Ansar al-Sharia, in 2011, to appeal to disaffected youth in Yemen at the time of the Arab Spring.

AQAP’s leader cultivated good relations with local tribes, which helped his group advance in various places in the south of the country.

His death is no doubt a big blow for AQAP – but it seems to have been prepared for this moment, swiftly naming another highly influential figure, Qasim al-Raymi, to succeed him.

“We in al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula mourn to our Muslim nation… that Abu Baseer Nasser bin Abdul Karim al-Wuhayshi, may God have mercy on his soul, passed away in an American strike which targeted him along with two of his mujahideen brothers,” Khaled Batarfi, a senior member of the group, said in the video.

The Pentagon has previously said it would not comment on the killing of Wahayshi – thought to be the highest ranking al-Qaeda leader killed since Bin Laden’s death in Pakistan in 2011.

Yemeni officials said Wuhayshi was believed to have been killed in a raid in al-Qaeda-held Mukalla, in south-eastern Yemen’s Hadramawt province.

Witnesses were quoted as saying an explosion had killed three men on the seafront last Friday – and that al-Qaeda gunmen had quickly cordoned off the area and gathered the remains, leading them to believe a leader was among those killed.

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