Al-Qaeda Yemen leader Wuhayshi killed in airstrike

© AFP Photo/Al-Malahem Media

The leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Sheikh Abu Basir Nasser al-Wuhayshi was killed in a missile strike from a US-operated drone, an Al-Qaeda spokesperson said in an online statement.

The airstrike took place Friday in the southern Yemen city of Al-Mukalla, the capital of Hadhramaut region. Two other members of al-Qaeda were killed along with al-Wahayshi, who worked as Osama bin Laden's secretary before proclaiming himself AQAP's leader in 2008. In 2013 the current leader of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, appointed al-Wuhayshi his deputy.

According to the United Nations, AQAP is responsible for attacks on the US embassy in Yemen, staging terrorist acts against counterterrorism officials and oil facilities, tourists and aid workers.

In January 2010 Nasir al-Wuhayshi was designated a Specially Designated Global Terrorist by the US State Department, which promised $10 million for information about the AQAP leader.

A Yemeni citizen, Al-Wuhayshi has been on the list of most wanted fugitives in both Saudi Arabia and Yemen for many years. In 2003, he was arrested and extradited to Yemen, but managed to escape from prison in 2006 along with 22 other terrorist prisoners.

After the jailbreak, Al-Wuhayshi was described as posing a "clear and present danger" by Interpol, which issued an Orange Notice against him.

The killing of the senior Al-Qaeda operative comes after reports of the death of Algerian Al-Qaeda leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar.