Arabian al Qaeda's number two is dead: Yemeni official

SANAA Thu Jan 24, 2013 2:29pm EST

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SANAA (Reuters) - A Saudi who was freed by U.S. authorities from detention at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, only to become second-in-command of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has died after being wounded by Yemeni security forces, a Yemeni security official said on Friday.

Said al-Shehri suffered injuries in an operation by the security apparatus on November 28 in the northern province of Saada, a member of Yemen's supreme security committee told the Yemeni state news agency.

He subsequently fell into a coma and then died, the source said, without saying when exactly Shehri had died.

"He was buried by al Qaeda in an unknown location as a strategy to keep up the morale of its members," the source, who was not named, was quoted as saying.

It was not the first time Yemen had announced Shehri's death. In September, the Ministry of Defense said he had been killed in an army operation, only for him to issue an audio tape a month later.

But whereas in September Saudi Arabia declined to confirm the death, this week Saudi-owned media have reported that Shehri is dead.

U.S. officials described Shehri as one of the most important al Qaeda-linked militants to be released from the Guantanamo detention facility, where he was taken in January 2002 after Pakistan handed him to U.S. authorities.

Shehri, a former officer in Saudi Arabia's internal security force, allegedly joined al Qaeda and helped to facilitate the movements of Saudi militants seeking to travel to Afghanistan via Iran, according to a classified Pentagon report made public by WikiLeaks.

According to the Pentagon document, Shehri was "assessed to be a HIGH risk" prisoner because "he is likely to pose a threat to the U.S., its interests and allies".

A U.S. official familiar with the case said Shehri was one of numerous Saudi militants at Guantanamo released by the administration of President George W. Bush under heavy pressure from Saudi authorities and the U.S. court system.

Shehri was released to Saudi Arabia in 2007 and put through a Saudi rehabilitation program for militants.

But he later returned to the battlefield in Yemen, and became AQAP's number two, leading one U.S. official to call him a "poster child for recidivism".

Shehri was wanted by Yemeni authorities for a suspected role in an attack on the U.S. embassy in Sanaa in 2008.

AQAP, which has planned attacks on international targets including airliners, is described by Washington, which has repeatedly used unmanned drones to target its members, as perhaps al Qaeda's most dangerous and innovative affiliate.

(Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari; Writing by Raissa Kasolowsky; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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Comments (4)
jcfl wrote:
“A U.S. official familiar with the case said Shehri was one of numerous Saudi militants at Guantanamo released by the administration of President George W. Bush under heavy pressure from Saudi authorities..”
when is obama going to be tried for his crimes………oh wait! not that many out there in la-la reichtie land won’t believe obama had something to do with this release of known terrorists in 2007.

Jan 24, 2013 2:50pm EST  --  Report as abuse
americanguy wrote:
Good deal. “We will release them and you will kill them for us, because we can’t kill them (or apparently any other murderer) in the US”.
Kind of like letting a prisoner escape so they can be “shot while trying to escape”.
Great plan.
It works. We tracked this guy down, and then gave his, location and the request to take him out for us.
Thumbs up.
Thumbs up to Yemeni also.
Not going so well for Al Qaeda, is it?
Big difference in now and when GW was Prez.

Jan 24, 2013 4:26pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Lowell_Thinks wrote:
@American guy

It’s amazing to see the length to which you liberal buffoons will go to protect this dismal failure of a president. Releasing terrorists does not allow us to track them, it only allows them to resurface and continue with their plans to kill Americans. And, please spare us the Bush comparisons; he past history, whereas Obama’s incompetence is perpetual and ongoing.

God Bless the Tea Party!

Liberalism: Moochers voting in looters to steal from producers.

Jan 24, 2013 6:19pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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