Aden: The Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) said that one of its top ideological leaders was killed in a US drone strike in the southeastern province of Hadramout.
A US drone strike targeted Al Qaeda operatives in Hadramout province on Monday, killing the ideological leader of the group, Ibrahim Rubaish, and other gunmen, said a statement issued by AQAP and posted on some websites, Xinhua reported.
Rubaish, a Saudi national, who was released from Guantanamo Bay detention camp in 2006, fled to Yemen in early 2009 and emerged as a leading ideologue and theologian of the AQAP, one of the strongest Al Qaeda affiliates in the world.
In February 2009, the Saudi Kingdom placed Rubaish, along with at least 10 other former Guantanamo detainees, on its list of 85 most-wanted terrorists.
Rubaish had a five million-US dollar bounty on his head by Washington. In 2013, another top AQAP leader Said Al Shehri was killed in a US drone strike in Yemen.
The AQAP group took advantage of the country's current political conflicts and advanced in Yemen's southeastern province of Hadramout by taking control over several military bases during the past few weeks.
Earlier this month, scores of Al Qaeda members launched coordinated attacks on government institutions and the central prison in the coastal city of Mukalla, the provincial capital of Hadramout, freeing more than 300 prisoners, including several commanders.
Yemen, an impoverished Arab country, has been gripped by one of the most active regional Al Qaeda insurgencies in the Middle East.
AQAP, which emerged in January 2009 and also known locally as Ansar Al Sharia, claimed responsibility for a number of attacks on Yemen's army and government institutions.
The network is led by Yemeni militant Nasser al-Wuhayshi, who declared in July 2011 the group's allegiance to Ayman al-Zawahiri, head of the worldwide Al Qaeda network after its founder Osama bin Laden was killed by US forces in 2011.