Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's Second in Command Killed, Yemen Says
U.S. State Department notes that he was publicly identified in 2009 as deputy leader of AQAP
Josh Levs CNN
September 10, 2012(CNN) -- Yemeni forces have killed Said al-Shihri, second in command of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Yemeni Defense Ministry said Monday.
An official military website cited a senior source saying al-Shihri was killed in an operation in Hadramawt Valley.
A Yemeni government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told CNN an operation took place and a body appears to be that of al-Shihri, but that officials are waiting for DNA confirmation.
The military statement said al-Shihri was killed along with "six other terrorists who were with him."
Al-Shihri was once held by the United States at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. In November 2007 he was transferred to Saudi custody, and underwent a program designed to lead people away from terrorism.
But 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, the U.S. House Armed Services Committee said in a document about detainees who resume terrorism.
The U.S. State Department notes that he was publicly identified in January 2009 as the deputy leader 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 said.
White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan in April described AQAP as "very, very dangerous" and "the most active operational franchise" of al Qaeda.
In December 2009, Yemen said it thought al-Shihri was at the site of an aerial assault against senior al Qaeda operatives. But later reports said he had apparently escaped the attack.
CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom and Tim Lister contributed to this report.