The leader of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Yemen, the group confirmed in a video statement.
Nasir al-Wahishi was the head of AQAP, the Yemen affiliate of al-Qaida. Wahishi was second-in-command for the broader al-Qaida terror network. The targeted killing was “the harshest blow to the global militant network since the killing of Osama bin Laden,” reports The Associated Press.
A senior AQAP militant read a statement announcing Wahishi’s death and that his deputy, Qassim al-Rimi, had been named the new leader. The operative vowed AQAP would continue its war against America, reports the AP.
Wahishi is believed to have been killed in the vicinity of Mukalla, a port city seized by AQAP militants earlier this year. The terror group has exploited Yemen’s instability, notably attacking a prison and freeing over 250 inmates in early April.
The U.S. had a $5 million reward on Wahishi, and Rimi also has a $5 million price on his head, according to Bloomberg.
Wahishi, who once served as Osama bin Laden’s secretary, pledged allegiance to al-Qaida leader, Aymen al-Zawahiri, after the U.S. killed bin Laden in 2011. AQAP is responsible for high-profile attacks like the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris and the “underwear bomber” attempt on a U.S. airliner in 2009.
AQAP “is the terror group considered most capable of striking U.S interests,” reports Fox News.
The Libya government confirmed the former leader of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb was killed by a U.S. drone strike on Sunday.