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Al-Qaeda in Yemen announces death of leader

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Al-Qaeda's branch in Yemen has announced the death of its leader Khalid Batarfi and named a successor, SITE Intelligence Group reported Sunday.

SITE said the group had named its new chief Saad bin Atef al-Awlaki, who last appeared in a video released in February 2023 © Mena Today 

Al-Qaeda's branch in Yemen has announced the death of its leader Khalid Batarfi and named a successor, SITE Intelligence Group reported Sunday.

The monitoring service said Batarfi's body was shown in footage released by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in burial shroud and wrapped in a flag bearing the jihadist group's name.

"God took his soul while he patiently sought his reward and stood firm, immigrated, garrisoned and waged jihad," SITE quoted an AQAP veteran as saying of Batarfi in the nearly 15-minute video.

There were no immediate details of the time or cause of Batarfi's death. He was believed to be in his 40s.

AQAP announced in February 2020 that Batarfi had been appointed its leader, following the death of his predecessor, Qassim al-Rimi, in a US drone strike on Yemen.

The United States considers Al-Qaeda's Yemen branch the most dangerous faction of the global jihadist network, and the State Department designated Batarfi in 2018 a "global terrorist."

SITE said the group had named its new chief Saad bin Atef al-Awlaki, who last appeared in a video released in February 2023 urging Sunni tribesmen to join AQAP.

The Sunni extremist group thrived in the chaos of years of war since 2014 between Yemen's Saudi-backed government and Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

AQAP has carried out operations in Yemen against both the Houthis and government forces.

It has also carried out sporadic attacks abroad, including on the offices of the French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo in 2015 and a 2019 mass shooting at a US naval base in Florida, in which a Saudi Air Force officer killed three American sailors.

 

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