Al Qaeda lieutenant reported dead for fourth time
Al-Shihri turns up dead --again.
Al Qaeda has reported that their second-in-command is dead. According to a spokesman for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Said al-Shihri was killed in a drone strike.
Following that release he became the region's second-in-command. AQAP's most dangerous chapter, Al Qaeda in Yemen, with whom he operated, is still considered to be the greatest threat to the United States and allies.
While other al Qaeda branches have been systematically dismantled, AQAP, largely centered in Yemen, remains the greatest threat. They have engineers at their disposal who can help construct bombs and plot larger attacks that can potentially destroy an airliner, or other large target.
Other al Qaeda affiliates are struggling just to launch individual attacks.
Al-Shihri was reported killed on several occasions before. In 2009 a Yemeni news site reported he was killed by a drone strike in 2008. He was reported dead again just months later as a result of a cruise missile strike. A drone killed him in September 2012. The current report is his fourth killing.
The conflicted reports highlight the difficulties of operating in the region. Communication is difficult as much of it still passes person-to-person in the sparsely populated, mountainous, desert region.
Al Qaeda has also been fragmenting in Yemen according to intelligence officials. Vigilance by U.S. forces in the region has compelled al Qaeda operatives to move less during the day. Generally, the first sign that a U.S. drone is operating overhead is also its last -the strike itself.
U.S. officials cannot confirm the death of al-Shihri. In any case, being al Qaeda number two is a very hazardous job with dim prospects. At least the retirement is out of this world.
© 2013, Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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