US kills Al Qaeda leader behind 2007 attack on Spanish tourists in Yemen

Terrorist organization’s number two killed in CIA drone strike

Al Qaeda leader in Yemen, Naser al-Wuhayshi, seen in 2012.
Al Qaeda leader in Yemen, Naser al-Wuhayshi, seen in 2012.AFP

The Al Qaeda leader who was said to be responsible for the 2007 attack that left eight Spanish tourists dead in Yemen has been killed by a CIA drone strike, the terrorist organization’s branch in Yemen confirmed on Tuesday.

Nasir al-Wuhayshi was one of the founders of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

In a video announcing his death that was released on Tuesday, an Al Qaeda spokesman said the organization has replaced Al Wuhayshi with Qassim al-Raimi as the group’s new leader.

In an exclusive joint EL PAÍS-Al Jazeera investigation published on June 4, Hani Muhammad Mujahid, a former member of Al Qaeda who began working as an informant for Yemen’s national security agencies, said that he twice alerted antiterrorist services about the 2007 attack, in which a total of 10 people died.

He said the attack against the Spanish tourists at the temple of Mahram Bilqis in Yemen was planned by Al Wuhayshi and his associate Abu Hurayrah, also known as Qasim Al Raimi. But Mujahid said security officials did nothing to prevent it.

The attack on Spanish tourists in Yemen was reportedly planned by Al Wuhayshi and his associate Abu Hurayrah

According to CNN, the CIA drone strike that killed Al Wuhayshi took place last week in Hadramaut in southern Yemen.

The announcement of his death had been previously been posted on Islamic fundamentalist forums.

The Yemeni branch is one of the most powerful and active groups in the Al Qaeda terrorist network. It was allegedly behind last January’s deadly attacks on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket in Paris.

Al Wuhayshi, who was born in 1976 in Yemen’s Abyan province, first traveled to Afghanistan in 1998 to join Al Qaeda. There, he met Osama bin Laden and served as his personal secretary for six years.

After the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Al Wuhayshi fled Afghanistan and settled in Iran.

His close association with Bin Laden led to his eventual appointment as the terrorist group’s number two leader.

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Another major Al Qaeda leader, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, who is said to be responsible for the kidnappings of Europeans – including Spaniards – in northern Africa, was said by Libyan officials to have also been killed on Saturday by a US airstrike in Libya.

However, the United States has not confirmed this information but the Libyan government and the Al Akhbar news agency in Mauritania have denied this claim.

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