— The Erimtan Angle —

Kareem Fahim writes that “Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen released a video statement early on Tuesday [, 16 June 2015] confirming the death of its leader, Nasser al-Wuhayshi, in an American missile strike. Mr. Wuhayshi, 38, who had led Qaeda operations in Yemen since 2002 and was also the global extremist network’s second-ranking leader, was killed along with two other operatives, the statement said. The group said that its military commander, Qassim al-Raimi, had been chosen as Mr. Wuhayshi’s successor”.[1]

In the group’s video statement, a spokesman proclaimed the following: “Let it be known to the enemies of God that their battle is not only with one person or figure, no matter how important. To the infidel America: God has kept alive those who will trouble your life and make you taste the bitterness of defeat”. [2]

In September last year, National Counterterrorism Center Director Matthew Olsen testified that “Al Qaeda’s official branches in Yemen and Somalia continue to remain extremely active”.[3]  Words of warning apparently proven true by the spectacular Charlie Hebdo attack last January.[4]  And now, Wuhayshi’s execution by drone comes as a belated action of revenge, as confirmed by the NYT’s Fahim claiming that “American counterterrorism officials [appear] certain to view the killing of Mr. Wuhayshi as a major victory. He built the affiliate, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, into what was seen as the global organization’s most active branch and the most dangerous threat against the United States, even though its attempts to blow up airliners over American soil have failed. But his death also comes as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has grown more powerful in Yemen, capitalizing on civil war to capture territory and forge new alliances with Sunni tribes to fight the Houthis, a Shiite rebel group that controls large parts of the country. In early April [2015], Al Qaeda seized control of Al Mukalla, Yemen’s fifth-largest city, reportedly capturing millions of dollars from the vaults of the central bank there. Local news media in Yemen said that Mr. Wuhayshi was killed in the city last week by a missile strike that killed three Qaeda operatives by the beach”.[5]

The news agency Reuters’ Noah Browning and Mohammed Ghobari add that “Al-Wuhayshi, [was] a charismatic former associate of Osama bin Laden”, while highlighting that “Wuhayshi is the sixth major AQAP leader killed in suspected U.S. bombings this year, despite political turmoil in Yemen that led to the closing of the U.S. embassy and the evacuation of its military and intelligence personnel”.[6]  Browning and Ghobari then provide some background: “Wuhayshi, according to Gregory Johnson, author of a book on AQAP, was born in southern Yemen and traveled to Afghanistan for the first time in 1998 to join al Qaeda. He met bin Laden there and acted as his aide-de-camp until 2001, when the group was scattered after the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan following the Sept 11 attacks on the United States. He became head of AQAP in 2009, several years after a daring prison break from a jail in Yemen. In 2013, U.S. sources said that an intercepted communication between Wuhayshi and al Qaeda leader Atman al-Zawahiri – believed to be based in Pakistan – was one component of a broader pool of intelligence that prompted a threat alert closing numerous U.S. embassies in the Middle East and Africa”.[7]

[1] Kareem Fahim, “Al Qaeda’s Yemen Branch Confirms U.S. Missile Strike Killed Leader” NYT (16 June 2015). http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/17/world/middleeast/al-qaeda-arabian-peninsula-yemen-nasser-al-wuhayshi-killed.html?_r=0.

[2] Kareem Fahim, “Al Qaeda’s Yemen Branch Confirms U.S. Missile Strike Killed Leader”.

[3] “U.S. Officials: Al Qaeda ‘extremely active’ in Somalia and Yemen” Horn Affairs (19 September 2014). http://hornaffairs.com/en/2014/09/19/u-s-officials-al-qaeda-extremely-active-in-somalia-and-yemen/.

[4] C. Erimtan, “The Charlie Hebdo attack: Geo-politics, eurocentrism, Islamophobia, and blowback” RT Op-Edge (09 Jan 2015). http://rt.com/op-edge/221275-charlie-hebdo-attack-france/.

[5] Kareem Fahim, “Al Qaeda’s Yemen Branch Confirms U.S. Missile Strike Killed Leader”.

[6] Noah Browning and Mohammed Ghobarim, “Yemeni al Qaeda chief killed in U.S. bombing”Reuters (16 June 2015). http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/06/16/us-yemen-security-qaeda-us-idUSKBN0OW0FJ20150616.

[7] Noah Browning and Mohammed Ghobarim, “Yemeni al Qaeda chief killed in U.S. bombing”

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