US official: Al Qaeda core chief picks number two from Yemeni affiliate
Nasir al Wuhayshi, the Yemeni leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula
August 5th, 2013
03:12 PM ET

US official: Al Qaeda core chief picks number two from Yemeni affiliate

By Barbara Starr

In what may be a disturbing sign of al Qaeda’s resurgence, U.S. intelligence believes the Yemeni head of its affiliate in the Arabian peninsula is now the overall terror organization’s No. 2 leader.

A U.S. official with access to the latest intelligence said that Nasir al Wuhayshi was appointed over the past few weeks by al Qaeda chief Ayman Al Zawahiri.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is widely thought by the Obama administration to be behind the latest terror threat that prompted the closure this week of U.S. diplomatic facilities in the Middle East and North Africa.

The official declined to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the information. The source also would not say how specifically Wuhayshi’s appointment may be related to the new developments.

But Wuhayshi’s elevation would almost certainly have required communication between his organization and “al Qaeda Central.”

Given al Qaeda’s track record, those exchanges would most likely have involved couriers travelling back and forth between Yemen and Pakistan, where Zawahiri is presumed to be hiding.

An intercepted message among al Qaeda senior operatives in recent days led to the U.S. action involving its embassies and consulates, CNN has learned.

CNN first reported Wuhayshi’s new role last week when Seth Jones, a Rand Corporation analyst, said the appointment had occurred. Jones called it “unprecedented because he's living in Yemen, he's not living in Pakistan."

The appointment is not known to have been made public by al Qaeda.

The appointment would effectively thrust Wuhayshi, a Yemeni national, into the second-ranking position in the group’s global network, a position previously held by the Libyan Abu Yahya al Libi before his death in a drone strike in Pakistan in June 2012, according to CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank.

It would also provide a broader foundation to al Qaeda’s top leadership at a time when its center of gravity has shifted from the Afghanistan-Pakistan region to the Arab world.

And it would potentially allow the group to re-tap fundraising opportunities in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries where Wuhayshi is more popular than Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s less charismatic and sometimes divisive Egyptian leader, Cruickshank said.

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Filed under: Al Qaeda • AQAP • Terrorism • Yemen
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. Jerusalem Opinion

    Sadly, it appears that those who thought Al-Qaeda were a declining threat were wrong. With the unrest in Syria, there are rising numbers of jihadist organisations in the Middle East, and this could have disastrous consequences. Check out this article for more detail: http://jcpa.org/article/the-return-of-al-qaida/

    August 6, 2013 at 3:24 am | Reply
  2. midgick

    Last comment on this.
    If the various Countries hide and/ or give aid to the Terrorists, then hold these Countries resposible and blow them to Hell.
    Maybe them they will sing a different tune

    August 5, 2013 at 11:28 pm | Reply
  3. midgick

    i apologise for including North Korea as and Islamic Country.

    August 5, 2013 at 11:25 pm | Reply
  4. midgick

    I'd like to see the US withdraw from being the Worlds keeper of democracy and peace. Places like Yemen, North Korea, Pakistan and others don't want democracy or freedom. When will we recognize that Islam don't allow this kind of thinking.
    It's what Italians call an Infamlia which means forbiden and a moral curse.
    Our Country really needs to concentrate on America and not all these other Counties. We have millions of poor and hungry people right here in the good ol USA. Take care of your own, then maybe you can address the World's problems.
    Want to solve our $$$ problems then concentrate on us, not them.

    August 5, 2013 at 11:23 pm | Reply
  5. pjoe

    Most hazardous job in the world ... senior Al Queda manager ... a.k.a. Top Drone Target.

    August 5, 2013 at 10:46 pm | Reply
  6. Maria1119

    Careful with your hatred Republicans. Your hatred for the president is turning you into Fifth Column in this country and that's a very dangerous step. We have a common enemy and should not enable it.

    August 5, 2013 at 9:45 pm | Reply
    • Lyndsie Graham

      Who might that be, Maria1119? There isn't one country in the world today that can pose any kind of threat to us with all our godawful weapons at our disposal. Furthermore, it's the right-wing politicians in Washington who are vastly overplaying the "threat" of Al Qaeda in order to frighten the public. Unfortunately, due to the ignorance of the people, it works only too well!

      August 5, 2013 at 10:53 pm | Reply
  7. gonz

    Wait a minute! I thought our beloved leader said during the campaign that "Al Qada is on the run". Yeap, some run they're on!!

    August 5, 2013 at 5:56 pm | Reply
  8. Guy

    He's the disease and we are the cure ! A Drone a hour is all we ask.

    August 5, 2013 at 4:38 pm | Reply
    • Jack Hollis

      If I were you Guy, I'd be ashamed to exhibit my ignorance on this web page. You sound like another dimwitted Tea Partier by praising those killer drones of ours. How would you feel if any members of you family or friends were to be on the receiving end of one of those cursed machines? So don't be too quick to praise those monsters!

      August 5, 2013 at 4:49 pm | Reply
  9. tony capony

    I see drone written all over this guy, his time is numbered

    August 5, 2013 at 4:07 pm | Reply
  10. George patton

    any wager on how long this ratman is going to last?

    August 5, 2013 at 3:35 pm | Reply
    • George patton

      I suppose now that Obama and his rotten henchmen are now planning to murder this man in cold blood, Phunnie boy. This Obama will stop at nothing just to make himself look good before the American public just as George W. Bush did before him! It appears that murder has now become the "politically correct" thing to do!!! How repulsive!

      August 5, 2013 at 4:10 pm | Reply
      • pmccue

        you wanna play you gotta pay. His days are numbered.

        August 5, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
      • George patton

        Phunnie boy, you're just too kind to these animals; have you not noticed your life and so does the life of your kids have changed once and for all, thanks to these desert cult?

        August 5, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
      • George patton

        Please Phunnie boy, enough of this political "correctness" of yours. If you have to be politically "correct", please use your own name for a change and do quit trying to make me look stupid. Once and for all, as the true George patton here, I am no Tea Partying nitwit like you!!!

        August 5, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
      • Leo.

        enough of your Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde George patton or whatever.

        August 5, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
      • Leo.

        and it goes without saying you are a stupid fool, I mean the al qaeda hugging George.

        August 5, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
      • Maria1119

        You sound like a colaborator...

        August 5, 2013 at 9:46 pm |

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