The Yemeni government says its forces have killed the second-in-command of al-Qaida’s Yemen-based network.
A Yemeni defense ministry website reported Monday that Said al-Shehri, a Saudi national, was one of several militants killed during an army operation in Hadramout province in eastern Yemen. No other details were provided.
Al-Qaida’s Yemen-based network, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, remains active in southern Yemen. Suspected militants have carried out suicide bombings and targeted Yemeni government officials for assassination.
The network is also suspected of planning attacks on U.S. interests, including a failed plot in 2010 to blow up U.S.-bound cargo planes with explosives hidden in printer ink cartridges.
A Yemeni security source told Reuters that Shehri was killed in the operation last Wednesday and that a U.S. drone was involved. Unmanned aircraft provided by the United States have been assisting Yemeni forces fighting against al-Qaida and other militants in remote sections of Yemen.
Shehri had been a prisoner at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. He was turned over to Saudi Arabia’s custody in 2007 and sent to a rehabilitation program for militants run by Saudi authorities.
In recent years, Shehri has recorded messages on behalf of al-Qaida threatening violence against Saudi Arabian nationals, Israeli targets and Yemen’s government.