A senior al-Qaeda official wanted by the United States, and a local leader of the armed group’s affiliate, Ansar al-Sharia, have been killed in a drone strike in central Yemen overnight.
Shawki al-Badani, a leader of al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP) and a designated “global terrorist” by the US, was one of four armed group members killed, along with Nabil al-Dahab, the leader of Ansar al-Sharia in Yemen’s al-Bayda province, tribal sources said on Wednesday.
While the killing of the two is a big blow to the al-Qaeda network, I'm not sure the group is weakened by it, since the network's structure is not dependent on individuals
The US State Department says Badani was linked to at least two plots against the US embassy in Sana’a and a 2012 suicide bombing in the Yemeni capital that killed more than 100 soldiers.
A June 17, 2014, posting on the State Department website says the Yemeni government had offered a $100,000 reward for information about Badani. It also reports Yemeni authorities describing him as one of “the most dangerous terrorists affiliated with al Qaeda”.
Al Jazeera’s Omar Al Saleh, reporting from the capital Sanaa, said “while the killing of the two is a big blow to the al-Qaeda network, I’m not sure the group is weakened by it, since the network’s structure is not dependent on individuals. The network certainly has replacement for its leaders in case they are targeted by the US, or even Yemeni army.”
The US acknowledges using drones in Yemen but does not comment publicly on the practise. Sunni al-Qaeda and its affiliates in Yemen are among the most active wings of the network founded by Osama bin Laden.
US drone strikes killed at least 10 suspected al-Qaeda fighters on Tuesday in central Yemen, where clashed between members of Ansar al-Sharia and rebel Shia Houthi fighters also killed 10 people, tribesmen said.
Fighting has flared in different parts of Yemen since the Houthis rose to dominance in recent months, threatening the fragile stability of a country that borders Saudi Arabia.
Houthi forces took over Sanaa in September and fanned out into central and western Yemen. That antagonised Sunni tribesmen and al-Qaeda fighters, who regard the Houthis as heretics.