Khaled Abdelnabi, a prominent leader of Ansar al-Sharia, the local branch of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, voluntarily turned himself in to security forces in the Yafa’a district of the Lahij governorate.
According to local Yemeni news reports, Abdelnabi turned himself in on Saturday night.
Jalal al-Rabihi, the commander of the emergency unit in Yafa’a, said Abdelnabi is now in their custody and he will be handed over to the relevant authorities.
Rabihi called on the rest of the organization’s leaders to turn themselves in to security and army forces in the liberated governorates.
Al-Arabiya.net contacted Yemeni officials in the legitimate government but they refused to comment on the matter and said they would once Abdelnabi is transferred to relevant authorities in Aden and interrogated.
Abdelnabi, also known as Abu Basir al-Yazidi, is wanted by the American intelligence. He ruled “the emirate of Jaar” in Abyan, south of Yemen, when al-Qaeda seized it between 2011 and 2012. After al-Qaeda was expelled from the city, his whereabouts became unknown but Yemeni security forces continued to pursue him for years.
Abdelnabi fought side by side with Osama bin Laden, the late al-Qaeda leader in Afghanistan, and he was close to him. According to some reports, he had close ties with ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh who used him in 2011 – when he was ousted – to thwart the transitional phase and helped him control Abyan by supporting Ansar al-Sharia.
In 2004, Abdelnabi commended Saleh for his openness and tolerance reflected in the release of Islamists from Yemeni prisons.