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Nasir al-Wahayshi on Salih al-Nabhani

One of the questions I am often asked is what if any links al-Qaeda as it is headquartered in Yemen has with al-Qaeda affiliates in Somalia. Certainly, Sada al-Malahim has been active in writing about supporting fighters in Somalia – and this an area of potential expansion – and there has been some individual links. Two of the 23 al-Qaeda suspects that escaped from a Yemeni prison in February 2006 made their way to Somalia: one was killed there and one was arrested in Kenya and sent back to Yemen and was released earlier this year.

In the current issue of Sada al-Malahim, Nasir al-Wahayshi devotes one of his three articles to writing about the recent death of Salih al-Nabhani, who is known by the kunya Abu Yusif. Al-Nabhani was killed on September 14, 2009 in an operation by US Special Forces. The New York Times reported on the attack here, and al-Nabhani’s wikipedia page has a bit more. But for the best piece, at least that I have been able to find, please check out Ibn Siqilli’s post at Views from the Occident, which also has the Arabic of the announcement of his death. The BBC also has a profile of him here. (I have no idea why every English story drops the final ya of his name making him al-Nabhan instead of al-Nabhani.)

Al-Wahayshi talks a bit about al-Nabhani’s background, much of which can be found in the English-language links above, but interestingly he describes him as “He of the smile,” which one doesn’t often hear about jihadis. He also describes him – in that particular Arabic style – as la yakallu wa la yamallu, which I am translating simply as indefatigable, and given the attacks he seems to have had a hand in, this seems to be a pretty good description.

Along with congratulating al-Nabhani with his martyrdom, al-Wahayshi also mentions the other five individuals killed with him in the attack, whom he lists as Abu Talha al-Sudani, Adam ‘Ayrwa, ‘Abd al-‘Aziz bin ‘Atash, ‘Ali Midraf and Abu ‘Asam al-Tabuki.

The last name caught my attention as it suggest that the individual is from the Saudi city of Tabuk and it reminded me of the case of Mansur al-Bayhani, one of the escapees of the Feburary 2006 prison break (he also has two brothers in Guantanamo), who was killed in a US missile strike in Somalia in June 2007. What is it about Tabuk and Somalia?

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