Al-Qaeda has confirmed that the leader of its offshoot in the Arabian Peninsula, Nasser al-Wuhayshi, has been killed in a US drone strike in Yemen, BBC reports. His death was announced by the AQAP group in an online video, in which it said two other fighters had also died. Al-Wuhayshi was seen as al-Qaeda’s second-in-command and was a former private secretary to Osama Bin Laden.
His successor was named in the video as military chief Qasim al-Raymi. The Yemeni news group al-Masdar Online has previously reported (in Arabic) that al-Wuhayshi was killed in an attack in Hadramawt province last Friday. “We in al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula mourn to our Muslim nation… that Abu Baseer Nasser bin Abdul Karim al-Wuhayshi, God rest his soul, passed away in an American strike which targeted him along with two of his mujahideen brothers, may God rest their souls,” Khaled Batarfi, a senior member of the group, was quoted as saying on the video.
The Pentagon said it would not comment. The Site intelligence group previously said that if the death were confirmed it would be the biggest strike on al-Qaeda since Bin Laden’s death in Pakistani in 2011. The US State Department offered a $10m (£6.4m) reward for anyone who could help bring al-Wuhayshi to justice. It said he was “responsible for approving targets, recruiting new members, allocating resources to training and attack planning, and tasking others to carry out attacks”.
He became head of AQAP when the Yemeni and Saudi branches of al-Qaeda merged in 2009.