In a potential counter-terror one-two punch, a U.S. intelligence official said right now the U.S. is “looking into claims” that the leader of a potent al Qaeda affiliate, and a possible future leader of overall al Qaeda, was killed in an airstrike – a probe U.S. intelligence will be conducting as it also tries to figure out if one more terror leader was killed in an American airstrike in Libya.
Rumors circulated today amongst jihadists online that Nasir al-Wahishi, head of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), was killed in current days in an American strike in Yemen.
A spokesperson for the Yemeni Embassy in Washington, Mohammed Albasha, tweeted earlier right now that his government had “no confirmation” on al-Wahishi’s fate. The American intelligence official who spoke to ABC News declined to comment additional than to say the U.S. is investigating.
Al-Wahishi, like other high-profile terror figures, has been reported dead before, only to emerge to disprove the rumors.
The wiry al-Wahishi is wanted by the U.S. government for allegedly “approving targets, recruiting new [al Qaeda] members, allocating resources to coaching and attack planning, and tasking other individuals to carry out attacks,” according to the U.S. State Division, which presents a $ten million reward for information leading to his capture.
U.S. officials have stated for years that AQAP represents the greatest threat to the American homeland from an al Qaeda affiliate. The group is believed to count among its members Ibrahim al-Asiri, a diabolical bomb-maker responsible for a series of elaborate, if failed attempts to attack the U.S. by hiding explosives in planes bound for the homeland.
American airstrikes have taken out targets in Yemen in the past – most notably American citizen-turned-al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in 2011.
“If confirmed, the death of AQAP’s leader is a key blow to Islamist terrorists who are plotting everyday to attack America,” mentioned Rep. Michael McCaul, Chairman of the Home Homeland Security Committee. “But as we know from the case of Osama bin Laden, killing al Qaeda commanders is not adequate. We can chase these fanatics to the gates of hell, but to win, we should destroy their terrorist sanctuaries and defeat their insidious ideology.”
The rumors of al-Wahishi’s potential demise came as the U.S. military confirmed that a further terror leader, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, was targeted in a military strike in Libya more than the weekend.
Belmokhtar was once a senior commander of a different al Qaeda affiliate, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), ahead of he had a falling out with the group in 2013 and split off to form his own organization.
The U.S. is nevertheless assessing no matter if the strike targeting Belmokhtar was profitable. He has also been reported dead a number of instances prior to.