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U.S. Airstrike Kills Senior al-Qaida Leader in Yemen

Abu Khattab al Awlaqi killing
U.S. Defense Dept. reports airstrike in Yemen killed Abu Khattab al Awlaqi (Source: defense.gov)

WASHINGTON–(ENEWSPF)–June 22, 2017 — An al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula senior leader was killed in Yemen’s Shabwah governorate by a June 16 U.S. airstrike, U.S. Central Command said in a release.

Abu Khattab al Awlaqi, the emir for al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula’s terrorist stronghold in the governorate, was killed in the airstrike along with two of his group’s associates, the release said.

Al Awlaqi was a senior leader responsible for planning and conducting terrorist attacks against civilians, according to the release. 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 exacerbate instability in southern Yemen.

In coordination with the government of Yemen, U.S. forces are conducting a series of 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, the release said. Senior leaders from the terrorist group seek safe haven in places like Shabwah governorate, the release said, 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, the release said.

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, the release said. The group and its predecessors attacked the U.S. Embassy-Sanaa in 2008, attempted to down Northwest Airlines 253 on Christmas Day 2009, and conspired to send explosive-laden parcels to Chicago in 2010, the release said.

The group 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, according to the release. Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula is a formidable terror group that remains committed and capable of attacking U.S. citizens and the homeland. The Yemeni leadership is working with Arab allies to remove this terrorist group from its governorates.

U.S. forces conducted this strike with the full support of the government of Yemen, the release said. In conjunction with its Arab allies, the U.S. will continue to support their efforts and fight terrorist organizations like al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

Source: http://defense.gov

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