Washington: In the most significant blow to al-Qaeda since the death of Osama bin Laden, its leader in the Arabian Peninsula and deputy to chief Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed in a US drone strike in Yemen, the White House today confirmed.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has said in a video statement that Nasir al-Wahishi was dead. "Wahishi's death strikes a major blow to AQAP, al-Qaeda's most dangerous affiliate, and to al-Qaeda more broadly," said Ned Price, spokesperson of the National Security Council at the White House.
This image from video released Jan. 23, 2009, by al-Malahim Media Foundation and provided by IntelCenter on Dec. 30, 2009, shows the leader of Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, identified by the IntelCenter as Nasir al-Wahishi, in Yemen. Pic/AP/PTI
"Wahishi had led AQAP since its founding in 2009 and oversaw the group's plotting against the United States, US interests in the Arabian Peninsula, and those of our allies in the region," Price said. "Wahishi was responsible for deaths of innocent Yemenis and Westerners, including Americans, but through the concerted efforts of our counter-terrorism professionals¿we were able to thwart many of his attack plans," he said.
US President Barack Obama has been clear that terrorists who threaten the United States will not find safe haven in any corner of the globe, he asserted. "While AQAP, al-Qaeda, and their affiliates will remain persistent in their efforts to threaten the US, our partners, and our interests, Wahishi's death removes from the battlefield an experienced terrorist leader and brings us closer to degrading and ultimately defeating these groups," Price said. In 2007, Wahishi was named head of AQAP.
When Bin Laden was killed by US special forces in Pakistanin May 2011, Wahishi warned Washington not to fool itself that it spelt al-Qaeda's demise. The Pentagon said it would continue to find and kill terrorists who plan and carry out terrorist attacks against the US.