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AQAP Deputy Commander Dead

Al-Ittihad, a newspaper from the UAE, has a story out today that claims Said Ali al-Shihri was killed when a bomb he was assembling exploded, killing him and wounding five others.

The paper quotes Fahd al-Qusa, a member of AQAP.  The original story is here (Ar.) and News Yemen has a distilled version on its own website (Ar.)

If true, and my sense is that it is, this would be a huge blow to AQAP. Al-Shihri is the highest ranking Saudi in the organization and he has been instrumental in the growth of AQAP over the past two years

According to the story, al-Shihri and several others were building the bomb in the  White Mountain region near Lawdar in northern Abyan, on Wednesday when the bomb went off. 

Al-Shihri, of course, is a former Guantanamo Bay detainee, who shot to prominence when he appeared in a video tape announcing the formation of AQAP and his return to al-Qaeda shortly after President Obama pledged to close Guantanamo two days after taking the oath of office. 

This means that both former Guantanamo Bay detainees in that video - al-Shihri and Muhamad al-Awfi - are now out of the organization.

As of yet there has been no official statement from AQAP, confirming or denying this.  And I wouldn't expect one for a while still.  For me the fact that al-Qusa was willing to go on the record strongly suggests that this is true. 

I'll post more as information becomes available.

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