Oh, those Pakistanis. First, they claim that a drone strike killed Fahd al-Qusa and then months later al-Qusa appears safe and sound on the front page of al-Sharq al-Awsat, where he kindly posed for a picture with the paper’s Yemeni correspondent. Never mind that he is on the US most-wanted list and that the Yemeni government is in hot pursuit of him.
Now the Pakistanis are claiming that a US drone has killed Nasir al-Wihayshi, the head of AQAP in Yemen and, for my money, the man that should be at the top of US wanted lists for the country. This is the guy members of AQAP swear an oath of allegiance to. This is the guy who rebuilt AQ in Yemen when the US and Yemeni governments believed they had defeated it. He is bin Laden’s apprentice and someone who presents a threat to the US. He is also still alive.
I first heard about this rumor several days ago, but I didn’t really think anyone was taking it seriously. But, it seems, some are. They shouldn’t. Like al-Qusa, al-Wihayshi has been declared dead a number of time, as this Yemen Times story points out. Not once have the rumors been true.
Although, neither of them have been declared dead as many times as Qasim al-Raymi. He takes the prize. By my account he has been declared dead at least six times. Yet, he too is still alive.
I will add one thing to the Yemen story. And that is the appearance of a Nasir al-Wihayshi article in one of the latest issues of Sada al-Malahim (14) proves nothing. From the material in the issue it was written in early-mid 2010. Why it was only released in December is an interesting question.
Also, if one wants to speculate a bit further, there was no article by al-Wihayshi in issue 15, which was released on December 28, but likely written much earlier, probably in the early fall.
Still, for my money al-Wihayshi is still alive and kicking – probably in Abyan near where he was born and grew up.