8 Qaeda ultras killed in Yemen drone strike |
Gulf Times - 11 May, 2012
US drone strikes killed eight Al Qaeda militants gathered in a house in southern Yemen, tribal sources said yesterday, amid reports a Saudi mole had infiltrated the network and supplied information to the CIA.
The strikes took place around midnight in the town of Jaar, an Al-Qaeda stronghold in Abyan province, a source in the town said.
“We heard three explosions rock the town,” the source said, adding that a “US drone” carried out the strikes on a residence where the jihadists had been meeting in the dead of night.
“Eight militants were killed and their bodies were left in pieces,” revealed the source as witnesses said that parts of the two-storey building were completely destroyed. No other houses were affected in what appeared to be surgical strikes based on precise information.
Another tribal source said that among the militants killed was one going by the name of “Jallad,” who had been in charge of armaments for Al Qaeda’s fighters in Yemen.
The latest air strikes came after Yemeni Al Qaeda leader Fahd al-Quso, who was wanted in connection with the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, was killed in an air strike in eastern Yemen on Sunday.
Quso’s name figured on an FBI list of most wanted terrorists, along with a reward of up to $ 5mn for information leading to his arrest.
US media reported that a Saudi spy, reportedly a “mole” or “double agent,” spent weeks with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and garnered sensitive information that allowed the CIA to launch the drone strike against Quso.
The reports said that the “mole” had been ordered by AQAP to blow up a US-bound airliner.
A senior US official told the New York Times that the bomb for the would-be Al Qaeda attack was sewn into “custom fit” underwear that would have been difficult to detect even in a pat-down at an airport.
ABC News reported that the latest plot by AQAP was thwarted by a spy who infiltrated the group and took the explosive to Saudi Arabia.
Several military officials in Sanaa said that this week’s air strikes were launched by US aircraft and coordinated by Yemen President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, as well as by military and intelligence leaders.
On April 22, the financier of Yemen’s Al Qaeda branch - Mohamed Said al-Omda, also known as Abu Gharib Taizi - was killed in an air strike which witnesses said was carried out by a US drone in the northeast of the country. Omda was considered AQAP’s number four.
A week before that, another air strike which a security official said was conducted by a US drone targeted a moving vehicle carrying Al Qaeda operatives in the province of Bayda, some 210km southeast of the capital Sanaa, killing three leaders.
Among them was a local AQAP leader, Abu Hamza al-Sabri, referred to as the “Emir of Bayda.”
Tribal sources in areas under Al Qaeda control said yesterday that AQAP has been heavily infiltrated by intelligence agents from Saudi Arabia, Yemen and even the US.
The infiltration had occurred because AQAP has been randomly recruiting hundreds of unemployed youths over the past few months, they said.
Hadi, who succeeded Ali Abdullah Saleh after he stepped down following a year of protests, has vowed since his election in February to intensify the war against Al Qaeda.