Al Qaeda figure comes back to life in Yemen
October 23rd, 2012
10:25 AM ET

Al Qaeda figure comes back to life in Yemen

By Tim Lister and Hakim Almasmari

One of the Bond movies had the title "You Only Live Twice," but in the case of one of al Qaeda's most dangerous operatives even that may be a serious underestimate.

Abu Sufyan Said al-Shihri was - or is - the second most senior figure in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Last month, the Yemeni Defense Ministry announced al-Shihri had been killed "in an operation" in the Hadramawt Valley, a stronghold of AQAP in the south of the country.

But al-Shihri appears to have resurfaced with a defiant audio message.

In the message - called "Events and Lessons" and released by AQAP's media wing, Al-Malahem, on Monday - a speaker purported to be al-Shihri declares: "What has been reported in various media outlets regarding my death in the Arabian Peninsula is a rumor to cover the killing of innocent unarmed Muslims in Yemen."

Al-Shihri (if it was him) accused the Yemeni government of being an American puppet.

"They pushed another lie so they can muddy the events," the speaker said, "and this is when they reported my killing, as if America's killing of the mujahedeen is a victory for Islam and Muslims, but they are wrong."

He also addressed Arab media, saying: "To the mercenary media in Muslim countries, you have a duty to check the facts, have a credibility by checking your sources, and to use your tools to support Islam and its people rather than being a paid agent of the West."

Supported by a series of drone strikes, Yemen's armed forces have reclaimed much of the ground in the south that was seized earlier this year by militants belonging to al Qaeda and its ally Ansar al-Sharia.

In the audio message released Monday, al-Shihri described the retreat of fighters from the southern provinces of Abyan and Shabwa as tactical - calling it "a phase of the guerrilla war against the apostate government in Sanaa and the American crusaders."

Western media - including CNN - also reported al-Shihri's death, based on statements by officials in Yemen and reports from the state news agency. But DNA confirmation that al-Shihri was among several militants killed in a drone strike did not follow.

Yemen's Defense Ministry told CNN Monday that it stands by its previous assessment that al-Shihri was killed in an air-strike last month. It said it was still considering the option of providing DNA samples from the body alleged to be that of al-Shihri to Saudi Arabia or the United States.

But an official at the Interior Ministry who declined to be identified because he was not authorized to speak on the record acknowledged that al-Shihri's apparent resurrection is an embarrassment.

"He has been announced dead numerous times by the Defense Ministry, so this is not something new. But it will hurt the credibility and reputation of the Yemeni government," the official told CNN.

Saeed al-Gomahi, an analyst in Yemen who follows al Qaeda, said that government claims of the deaths of senior al Qaeda leaders should not be taken seriously unless al Qaeda issues a statement.

"Al-Qaeda would publish and release its condolences if one of its leaders was killed," he said. "That was not the case."

Al-Gomahi also warned that U.S. drone strikes are helping al Qaeda in Yemen because of the number of civilian deaths they cause. The latest strike is said to have killed four militants close to the city of Marib on Sunday.

An air strike in September killed 10 civilians in Radaa when the missiles missed a vehicle carrying a local al Qaeda leader. Local tribal leaders blamed U.S. drones for the deaths.

But an aggressive drone campaign over the past year has thinned out AQAP's ranks, claiming the lives of militant cleric and propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki, senior operative Fahd al-Quso and bomb-maker Abdullah Awad al-Masri among many others. According to a Yemeni journalist who has interviewed many of AQAP's leadership, the group's senior religious figure died from injuries sustained in a drone strike earlier this month.

Altogether, according to the Long War Journal, which tracks the drone campaign, five senior figures in AQAP have been killed in 34 drone strikes this year.

In addition, several Saudi AQAP militants have given themselves up. And in April a British mole within AQAP working for Saudi intelligence thwarted a plot by the group to target a U.S.-bound airliner with a suicide bombing.

Al-Shihri, a Saudi national, joined AQAP in 2008 after being transferred from the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay to Saudi custody.

Despite travel restrictions requiring him to stay in Saudi Arabia, he left for Yemen, where he joined another former Guantanamo detainee to assume leadership of AQAP.

"As deputy of AQAP, al-Shihri helps carry out terrorist acts by generating targets, recruiting new members, assisting with training and attack planning, and tasking others in the preparation of attacks," the State Department has said.

Rumors and reports of his demise are nothing new. In December 2009, Yemeni authorities said they believed al-Shihri was at the site of an aerial assault against senior al Qaeda operatives. But he apparently escaped that attack too.

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Filed under: AQAP • Terrorism • Yemen
soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. Skorpio

    The answer to global Islamic violence and madness around the world is a MASSIVE CONVERSION OF MUSLIMS TO CHRISTIANITY. Arab Christian churches should unite together to convert millions of brainless Muslims and stop abuses, violence, hatred, discrimination, massacres around the world. . As opposed to any other religion, Islamic CLERICS and DEVOUT Muslims are the most perverse, intolerant, discriminatory, irrational and violent people, these rats imitate Mohammed's example and role model. Perhaps the first step is to eliminate Muslim clerics who incite and are the main instigators to this madness

    December 4, 2012 at 8:50 am | Reply
  2. guest

    Just PHUCK I'Slam !

    October 26, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Reply
    • DocBudly

      Why didn't we kill them when we had them? I wonder who let them go?

      December 5, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Reply
  3. A Sneaky Drone

    Keep talking, I'm getting a bead on you

    October 24, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Reply
  4. t8kiteasy2

    There is a reason why these guys are coming back stronger than ever. Just don't ask why.

    October 24, 2012 at 11:38 am | Reply
  5. Kyle Egley

    Wish they would disappear, the world would be so much better. And safer

    October 24, 2012 at 10:51 am | Reply
  6. Kyle Egley

    Mus Lim A SS Holes

    October 24, 2012 at 10:50 am | Reply
    • Joseph McCarthy

      Please Kyle, if you must vomit your ignorance here, do leave the filthy Tea Party lingo out of it. It has no plce here! Thank you.

      October 24, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Reply
  7. Kyle Egley

    who cares

    October 24, 2012 at 10:48 am | Reply
  8. rexdogcanadien

    This guy must be the muslin jesus. Now vanish. You are no more.

    October 24, 2012 at 10:40 am | Reply
  9. Andrey

    So can you teach drone how to interrogate the terrorist or make a control shot in the head?

    October 24, 2012 at 12:33 am | Reply
    • Kevin

      Bin Laden could not possibly have hidden himself without the help of supporting Pakistani local people. Drones need to fry a terrorist plus at least a few supporters around him. A control shot in the head of only one terrorist is not cost effective. I would say at least 10 supporters around the terrorist would make more economical sense.

      October 24, 2012 at 6:41 am | Reply
  10. rob0rah

    The drones are going to find you sooner or later. Bye Bye!

    October 23, 2012 at 9:45 pm | Reply
  11. Gary

    Anyone complaining about importance of drone strikes now? If you want to get it done right, do it yourself. Don't expect Yemen to fight against terrorism. Muslims will only support terrorists.

    October 23, 2012 at 7:24 pm | Reply
    • George Patton

      Tell me Gary, just who in their right mind can blame the Muslims for feeling the way that they do? I cannot and neither should anyone else! We Americans sorely need to get over our own arrogance and self-righteousness bigtime!!! Most of all, we need to quit using those ungodly drones in order to slaughter people.

      October 23, 2012 at 7:32 pm | Reply
      • Gary

        Please read your own messages posted under various aliases below. You are a terrorist sympathizing Muslim. Why are you claiming to be an American when you hate Americans so much?

        October 23, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
      • Jeff

        Dear George,
        I am not Gary but I am in my right mind and I do indeed blame the Muslims for feeling like they do. You obviously haven't been paying attention and you obviously haven't a clue about the agenda of Islam or you're just in denial or the propagandist Gary accuses you of being. Just like the Muslims, you are using someone else as a scapegoat to rally around and use to justify the horrible religion of Islam. It oppresses it's followers, makes women into virtual slaves with little rights and promotes that no one else other than Muslims have a right to life. Even then, they continuously fight between each other depending upon their sect and have no respect for human life. In my book ALL religions are nothing more than a cult formed to intimidate, manipulate and control humans but Islam is by far the worst of these cults and you should do your research before deciding what is really at the root of the evil called Muslims.

        October 23, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
    • Adamman33

      If that's the case then we should pull out of this war on terror altogether. Do you not understand that it is not us who can win this so called war on terror, but ultimately it is the Muslims themselves who are the ones who must win this war.
      And what you just said is not all true, did you forget that it was when the sons of Iraq who were a Sunni group turned against Al Qaeda that things began to turn around in Iraq.

      October 24, 2012 at 5:59 am | Reply
  12. Eliminate hinduism, denial of truth absolute for peace, Islam.

    For true causes of mayhem among humanity, please visit limitisthetruth.com

    October 23, 2012 at 5:08 pm | Reply
    • Genghis Khan

      good luck with that, we have been trying that since approx 1526 :(

      October 24, 2012 at 11:37 am | Reply
  13. 2012marandalaw

    What else is new?...

    October 23, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Reply
    • Jo

      I just say Now that he is not dead Lookour whiiiiiiiiirrrr boom! keep broadcasting you will be soon!

      October 23, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Reply
  14. Brad

    Nobody believes Yemen's claims anyway. Countries like Yemen and Pakistan routinely pretend to kill terrorists just to secure more US aid. These countries are always on the side of the terrorists. Pakistan pretended to look for bin Laden for years while hiding him near a military compound. Yemen pretends to kill terrorists while protecting them. Clearly, one can't believe anything these Muslim countries claim - they have no credibility.

    October 23, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Reply
  15. George Patton

    It's good to hear that someone didn't get murdered for a change! This bloodshed needs to end!

    October 23, 2012 at 11:37 am | Reply
    • Jeff

      Selective attention George, I do believe several people in Iraq were murdered by their fellow Muslims with ANOTHER car bomb. Why is it that this keeps occurring if your insinuations and comments about Muslims feeling like they do is the west's fault? In Islam, killing one another is OK because we hate the west?

      October 23, 2012 at 11:25 pm | Reply
  16. Heng S.Ling Hsoa

    TERRORIST GROUPS IN INDIA

    • RASHTRIYA SWAYAM SEWAK SHANG (R.S.S.)
    • VISHWA HINDU PARISHAD
    • HINDU MUNNANI
    • ARYA SAMAJ
    • SHIV SENA
    • BHARATIYA JANATA PARISHAD
    • SANT SAMITI
    • HINDU MAHASABHA
    • BAAJRANG DAL

    LEADERS: L.K. Advani/ Ashok Singhal/ Bala Saheb Devaras/ Bal Thackeray/ A.B. Vajpayee/ Savarkar/ Baikunnth Lal Sharma “Prem”/ Balraj Madhok/ The Shankaracharya of Puri, Niranjan Dev Theerth/ Rama Gopalan/ Variyar – Vishwan Hindu Parishad/ Dharmalinga Nadar/ Cho Ramaswamy/Modi

    October 23, 2012 at 10:54 am | Reply
    • Amy

      Are you crazy...spreading lies

      October 23, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Reply
      • Sam

        This Modi guy is responsible for the massacre of tens of thousands of people in India. For ten years he was on the sh!t list of British Govt. RSS is like the Ku Klux Klan in USA. Why don't you ggogle and find the facts for yourself instead of flat denials. When you are done with your research, revert back to us. Thanks.

        October 23, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • Abigail

      "It is no secret that Hitler and his Nazi cronies sought inspiration from Indian extremist groups including the branding of his Nazi Party by adopting the Swastika, a traditionally Hindu symbol and representation of Hindu god Ganesha, as its marketing tool. The thesis being that like the Norwegian massacre the Jewish holocaust orchestrated by Hitler was inspired by the inherently violent cult of Indian Hindus and the manifesto of its then extremist/terrorist groups still in existence today. These groups are now the successors to and carrying out the vision of Al Qaeda all over the world albeit in a clandestine manner."

      October 23, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Reply
      • Abigail

        Let me quote another instance of this disgraceful disposition:
        It is no secret that Mahatma Gandhi (Hindu leader) was a pedophile. What is very disturbing is his relationship (!) and friendship with Hitler. He is known to have offered advice and encouragement to Hitler and his Nazi Party to undertake the Jewish Holocaust."

        October 23, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
      • Sheila

        A few months ago an auction was being arranged in Europe of Gandhi's letters and other artifacts corroborating the foregoing. Apparently, the Indian government with assistance from expatriate Indian businessmen muscled the auctioneers and put a stop to this auction.

        October 23, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
      • Secrets!

        there goes your secret (or no secret).

        http://www.geekosystem.com/gandhi-letter-to-hitler/

        Also there is no relation between Ganesha and the symbol that Nazi used. Swastika is a universal hindu symbol and putting a swastika on a bomb will not make muslims its target. Stop making stories and go to India to fight with RSS if you have guts.

        October 24, 2012 at 11:20 am |
      • Aunt Jemima

        Indians are double faced termites

        October 24, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • Uncle Sam

      Thanks Heng, I'll get on to it soon after I am done with the religion of peace. Till then keep away from India and their Hindu cult.

      October 24, 2012 at 11:30 am | Reply
      • Aunt Jemima

        Nuke these Indian b@stUrds

        October 24, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  17. Hahahahahahahah

    So let's "kill" him again! Hahahahahahha

    October 23, 2012 at 10:51 am | Reply

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