Washington: Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) leader Nasir al-Wuhayshi was killed last week in a US drone strike, media reported on Tuesday.
According to Yemeni security officials, tweets from AQAP operatives also spoke of al-Wuhayshi having been martyred, and of AQAP military commander Qasm al-Rimi (also known as Abu Hureira al-Sanaani) having been appointed as al-Wuhayshi’s replacement, CNN reported.
US authorities are looking to confirm al-Wuhayshi’s death, a US intelligence official said.
Al-Wuhayshi was the No.2 leader of Al Qaeda globally and the head of AQAP.
In a video that surfaced in April last year, the man who was known as Al Qaeda’s crown prince appeared brazenly out in the open, greeting followers.
In a speech to the group, al-Wuhayshi makes it clear that he’s going after the U, saying “We must eliminate the cross. … The bearer of the cross is America.”
The video showed what looked like the largest and most dangerous gathering of Al Qaeda in years.
Originally from Yemen, al-Wuhayshi assumed command of AQAP in 2009. He’d escaped a Yemeni prison in 2006, and had previously worked as a personal secretary for Osama bin Laden.
Reports of al-Wuhayshi’s death come followed after US planes carried out a strike inside Libya, purportedly killing a key terror figure in North Africa.
The target was Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a veteran Islamist fighter, who is blind in one eye, affiliated with al Qaeda in North Africa, a US official told CNN.
The Libyan government said Belmokhtar was killed in the weekend strike. However, US officials have not confirmed the report as yet.