A U.S. airstrike this month killed an al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula senior leader in Yemen’s Shabwah governorate, according to U.S. Central Command. Abu Khattab al Awlaqi, the emir for al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula was killed along with two of his group's associates.
Al Awlaqi was responsible for planning and conducting terrorist attacks against civilians. He had significant influence throughout al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula's terrorist stronghold, had ties and access to the group’s other senior leaders, and was implicated in planning and leading efforts to foment instability in southern Yemen.
Senior leaders from the terrorist group seek safe haven in places like Shabwah governorate to plot attacks against the U.S., its interests, and its friends and alliesacross the world.
In coordination with the government of Yemen, U.S. forces are conducting sustained counterterrorism operations in Yemen against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula to degrade the group’s ability to hold territory and coordinate external terror attacks. Senior leaders from the terrorist group seek safe haven in places like Shabwah governorate to plot attacks against the U.S., its interests, and its friends and allies across the world.
Al Awlaqi’s death removes a trusted and experienced terrorist leader from al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula's ranks.
In recent years, the terrorist group has taken advantage of ungoverned spaces in Yemen to plot, direct, and inspire terror attacks against the U.S., its citizens, and allies around the world. Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and its predecessors attacked the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa in 2008, attempted to down Northwest Airlines 253 on Christmas Day 2009, and conspired to send explosive-laden parcels to Chicago in 2010.
Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula has also used its English-language magazine, Inspire, to encourage attacks against the West, and has been linked to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, 2009 Fort Hood shooting, and other lone-wolf attacks in the U.S. and Europe.
U.S. forces conducted this strike with the full support of the government of Yemen. Together with its Arab allies, the U.S. will continue fight terrorist organizations like al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.