US forces in Yemen have targeted the al-Dhahab family, but who are they?

The killing of the leader of al-Dhahab clan, who led al-Qaeda in Bayda, was killed one day after his wedding and three of his brothers (File photo: AP)

The al-Dhahab family in Yemen have fallen under the spotlight again after members of the US military raided an al-Qaeda site on Saturday, killing three senior leaders: Abdul Raouf al-Dhahab, Sultan al-Dhahab and Seif al-Joufi. The elder brother Abdul Ilah al-Dhahab survived the attack that targeted the house of Raouf in Bayda.

This is not the first US military operation targeting the al-Dhahab family. The Al-Dhahab family, who are the late al-Awlaki’s in-laws, is considered an ally of al-Qaeda. A third family member was killed in a US drone strike in 2013, along with four of his bodyguards.

The killing of the leader of al-Dhahab clan, who led al-Qaeda in Bayda, was killed one day after his wedding and three of his brothers (Abdul Ilah, Abdul Raouf and Sultan).

His brother Tarek led the Qaeda branch in Bayda after him, until he was killed by his half-brother Hizam al-Dhahab following a family disagreement related to the leadership of the tribe. Tarek appeared in a video where his supporters were swearing allegiance to him as a prince of Ansar al-Sharia. In the video he announced his allegiance to the leader of al-Qaeda in Yemen Nasser al-Wouhayshi as well as Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda leader.

After the death of Tarek and his half-brother Hizam, the leadership of the tribe was assumed by Abdul Raouf al-Dhahab, supported by his brother Abdul Ilah.

It is said that al-Dhahab family is a renowned family in al-Qayfa. A conflict prompted by the killing of Ahmad Nasser al-Dhahab in 1987. The family was divided into two: the first group was formed by the sons of the first wife (Ali, Hizam and Khaled) the second group from the second wife (Nabil, Tarek, Abdul Raouf, Abdul Ilah, Qaed, Ahmad and Sultan). Finally the eldest son, Ali al-Dhahab succeeded his father up until his death in 2011.

Tarek and his brothers relied on their relations with al-Qaeda to establish their influence and take back the leadership of the tribe after being marginalized by their half-brothers.

The US raid killed the second wife of Anwar al-Awlaki and her 8-year-old daughter who was living at her uncle’s house.

Anwar al-Awlaki is a US citizen of Yemeni origin. He is one of the most prominent leaders of al-Qaeda and was killed by a raid carried out by a US unmanned drone in September 2011 in Shabwah.

Al-Qaeda has trained its members in many villages and rural areas in the provinces of Abyan, Shabwah and Bayda. It also declared its establishment as a new entity in Shabwah in 2009 after the merger of both the Yemeni and Saudi branches under the name of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, led by Nasser al-Wouhayshi. The branch has established a military wing under the name of “Ansar al-Sharia”. Anwar al-Awlaki was considered as its religious reference and political supervisor.

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Last Update: Tuesday, 31 January 2017 KSA 16:12 - GMT 13:12
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