Yemen said on Thursday that the co-founder and second-in-command of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Saudi national Saeed al-Shihri, had died.
The Supreme National Security Committee said Shihri had succumbed to wounds received in a counter-terrorism operation in the northern Saada province on November 28.
“The terrorist Shihri was buried by the Al-Qaeda network at a secret location in Yemen,” a statement added.
On Wednesday, SITE Intelligence Service quoted a radical Islamist as reporting on Twitter that Shihri has died “after a long journey in fighting the Zio-Crusader campaign.”
Last October, Shihri denied a September announcement by Yemen’s defense ministry that he had been killed in an army raid, in an audio message posted on extremist Internet forums.
The militant leader was released from Guantanamo Bay in Cuba in 2007 and was flown to Saudi Arabia where he was put through a rehabilitation program.
After completing the program, Shihri disappeared and later resurfaced as AQAP's Number Two.
AQAP, led by Nasser al-Wuhayshi, is classified by the United States as the most active and deadly franchise in the global Al-Qaeda network.
In October 2000, AQAP militants attacked U.S. Navy destroyer the USS Cole in Yemen’s port of Aden, killing 17 sailors and wounding 40 more.
Although weakened, the group continues to launch deadly attacks on Western and government targets across Yemen.
Yemen says country’s Qaeda number two dead