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Published On: Thu, Jun 18th, 2015

US airstrike kills al-Qaeda leader Nasir al-Wuhayshi in Yemen

Al Qaeda’s second in command, Nasir al-Wuhayshi, has been killed in a drone strike in Yemen, just days after U.S. planes carried out a strike inside Libya, killing Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a key terror figure in North Africa.

Al-Wuhayshi was the top leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, one of the most dangerous and dynamic branches of the jihadist network.

His death is “the biggest blow against al Qaeda since the death of (Osama) bin Laden,” said CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank.

Al-Wuhayshi was al Qaeda’s “leading light” and was one day expected to take over from its current global chief, Ayman al-Zawahiri, said Cruickshank.

Armed Predator drone firing Hellfire missile 2010 photo Brigadier Lance Mans, Deputy Director, NATO Special Operations Coordination Centre

Armed Predator drone firing Hellfire missile 2010 photo Brigadier Lance Mans, Deputy Director, NATO Special Operations Coordination Centre

Two Yemeni security officials told CNN that al-Wuhayshi was killed Friday in a suspected U.S. drone strike in Yemen’s Hadhramaut region.

AQAP has now released a video statement announcing that its leader and two aides had died. The speaker said that al-Wuhayshi would be succeeded by the group’s military chief, Qasm al-Rimi, also known as Abu Hureira al-Sanaani.

His death “a major blow to (al Qaeda’s) most dangerous affiliate and to al Qaeda more broadly.”
Al-Wuhayshi “was responsible for the deaths of innocent Yemenis and Westerners, including Americans,” U.S. National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said.

“While AQAP, al Qaeda and their affiliates will remain persistent in their efforts to threaten the United States, our partners and our interests, (al-Wuhayshi’s) death removes from the battlefield an experienced terrorist leader and brings us closer to degrading and ultimately defeating those groups.”

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