May 28, 2010 / 8:25 AM / 10 years ago

Yemen Al Qaeda video announces a new leader

* Al Qaeda video announces new member in leadership

* Three leaders confirmed killed by al Qaeda

DUBAI, May 28 (Reuters) - A fugitive Saudi Arabian man, who was once detained at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo, was named as a senior member of Al Qaeda’s Yemen wing, according to a tape by the group shown on al Arabiya television on Friday.

The tape also confirmed the deaths of three leaders killed in December and January during Yemeni air raids, the pan Arab broadcaster said.

Among those killed were Abdullah al Muhdar, the leader of al Qaeda in Yemen’s Shabwa province, Mohammed Amir al Awlaki, and Mohammed Saleh al Kazimi.

Othman Ahmed al-Ghamdi, the 31-year-old man named as a leading Al Qaeda operative on Friday, had been added to a list of 85 most wanted people by Saudi Arabia 15 months ago, al-Arabiya said.

He spent four years in Guantanamo prison after he was captured in Afghanistan. He was released in 2006.

Yemen, neighbour to top oil exporter Saudi Arabia, has been a key Western security concern since the Yemen-based al Qaeda arm claimed responsibility for a failed December attempt to bomb a U.S. bound passenger plane.

Last month, the group tried to assassinate the British ambassador to Yemen when a suicide bomber threw himself into the path of the convoy taking Tim Torlot to work in capital Sanaa.

The envoy was unharmed and only the suicide bomber died, but the bold hit signalled that a recent crackdown by Sanaa on the global militant group has done little to curb its ambitions to carry out attacks on international targets.

Western countries and Riyadh want Yemen, grappling with a northern Shi’ite insurgency and southern separatism, to quell its domestic conflicts to turn its focus on fighting al Qaeda, which they see as a bigger global threat.

Guantanamo prison was set up by U.S. President George W. Bush in Cuba in 2002 to hold foreigners captured after U.S. forces invaded Afghanistan to root out al Qaeda and its Taliban protectors in response to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S. (Reporting by Erika Solomon; editing by Matthew Jones)

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