New Yemen airstrike targets wanted al-Qaida figure

SAN’A, Yemen — Yemeni airstrikes today targeted one of the country’s most wanted al-Qaida figures for the second time in a week, security officials said.

The target was Ayed al-Shabwani, who officials accuse of providing sanctuary for top al-Qaida figures in the country. Yemeni forces bombed a farm in a remote area east of the capital San’a — where a number of al-Qaida leaders are believed to be living. It was not immediately clear whether anyone was hurt.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to talk to the media.

Al-Qaida in Yemen has become a pressing concern for U.S. security after the Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to blow up a Detroit-bound jetliner on Christmas, told FBI investigators the group provided him with explosives and training.

In the wake of the failed plot, Yemen intensified an offensive against al-Qaida with the help of U.S. counterterrorism aid and training.

Yemen, an impoverished country with a weak government whose authority does not extend far outside the capital, is Osama bin Laden’s ancestral homeland. The offshoot Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula was formed a year ago when Yemen and Saudi militant groups merged.

Hundreds of militants are believed to be roaming lawless regions of the mountainous nation, sometimes under the protection of powerful local tribes that have their own grievances with the government.

Al-Shabwani hails from the al-Shabwani tribe and is believed to have his tribe’s protection. He is on the government’s list of most-wanted al-Qaida figures and has been implicated in several fatal attacks on security troops and police officers.

The airstrike hit Wadi Adeeda, 115 miles east of San’a in Mareb province, officials said, adding that al-Shabwani is in charge of sheltering operatives in that area.

Yemen’s government had reported that al-Shabwani was killed along with al-Qaida’s military chief Qassim al-Raimi and four other operatives of the group in an airstrike Friday on another province northeast of the capital.

Al-Qaida released a statement shortly afterward denying any of its men were killed in Friday raid. But it said some “brothers” — militant jargon for al-Qaida members — were wounded.

However, the casualties could not be independently verified because reporters are not allowed to travel to the lawless areas.

Friday’s bombing struck near the village of Yatama, about 118 miles (190 kilometers) northeast of San’a, in the province of Jouf.

Jouf and Mareb provinces are both al-Qaida strongholds.

Al-Raimi was described as one of Yemen’s most-wanted militants accused of plotting to assassinate the U.S. ambassador. Yemeni officials have said he escaped a government attack on him last month.

According to a new Senate report, U.S. law enforcement authorities believe as many as three dozen Americans who converted to Islam in prison have traveled to Yemen, possibly to train with al-Qaida.

A copy of the report, obtained by The Associated Press, said several of the individuals have “dropped off the radar” for weeks at a time and continue to carry U.S. passports. The assessment was written by staff working for Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, a Democrat.

Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical American-Yemeni Islamic cleric suspected of ties to al-Qaida is believed to be hiding in the remote Yemen mountains under his tribe’s protection.

U.S. and Yemeni officials say al-Awlaki, who once preached in mosques in California and northern Virginia and posted fiery English-language Internet sermons urging Muslims to fight in jihad, is now an active participant in al-Qaida’s offshoot in Yemen.

Al-Awlaki has been connected with the alleged perpetrators of two recent attacks on American soil: the Nov. 5 shooting rampage at the Fort Hood army base in Texas and the attempt to bomb the U.S. plane on Christmas.

His family and many members of his powerful Awalik tribe deny the 38-year-old is a member of al-Qaida, depicting him as a victim of Yemeni and U.S. persecution.

At the United Nations in New York on Wednesday, the U.N. Security Council committee that handles sanctions against Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, announced that the organization and two of its leaders — identified as Nasir al-Wahishi and Said al-Shihri — will be subject to binding international sanctions including freezes on assets and an international travel ban.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

A Mukilteo Speedway sign hangs at an intersection along the road on Sunday, April 21, 2024, in Mukilteo, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Long live the Speedway! Mukilteo’s main drag won’t be renamed

The public shot down the mayor’s idea to change the name: 77% voted ‘No’ in an online survey, with 95% opposed on Facebook.

Everett
Motorcyclist dies in crash on East Marine View Drive in Everett

Around 8 p.m. Tuesday, a motorcycle and a vehicle crashed into each other at the intersection of 11th street and East Marine View Drive.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Darrington in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Motorcyclist dies in crash on Highway 530

Jeremy Doyle, 46, was riding east near Darrington when he crashed into the side of a car that was turning left.

The Marysville School District office on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
‘Financially insolvent’ Marysville schools to get unprecedented oversight

Superintendent Chris Reykdal will convene a first-of-its-kind Financial Oversight Committee, he wrote in a letter Tuesday.

Woodside Elementary Principal Betty Cobbs on Monday, June 17, 2024 in Bothell, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett’s first Black principal retires after 51 years

In her office, Betty Cobbs kept a black-and-white photo of herself at age 5: “I am right there, with dreams of becoming an educator.”

Junelle Lewis, right, daughter Tamara Grigsby and son Jayden Hill sing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” during Monroe’s Juneteenth celebration on Saturday, June 18, 2022. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
On Juneteenth: ‘We can always say that there is hope’

The Snohomish County NAACP is co-sponsoring a celebration Saturday near Snohomish, with speakers, music and food.

Rep. Rick Larsen speaks at the March For Our Lives rally on Saturday, June 11, 2022, in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Larsen kickoff in Everett canceled over fear of pro-Palestinian protesters

The event had been scheduled to take place at the Scuttlebutt Brewing Taproom on Monday night.

After 3 years in jail, Camano murder suspect’s trial delayed again

In February 2021, prosecutors allege, Dominic Wagstaff shot and killed his father, shot his brother’s girlfriend and tried to shoot his brother.

The access loop trail on the Old Sauk Trail on Monday, May 27, 2024 in Darrington, Washington. (Ta'Leah Van Sistine / The Herald)
10 accessible trails to explore this summer in Snohomish County

For people with disabilities, tree roots and other obstacles can curb access to the outdoors. But some trails are wheelchair-friendly.

Everett NewsGuild members cheer as a passing car honks in support of their strike on Monday, June 24, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett Herald newsroom strikes amid layoffs

“We hope that people who live in these communities can see our passion, because it’s there,” said Sophia Gates, one of 12 Herald staffers who lost jobs last week.

A person wears a pride flag in their hat during the second annual Arlington Pride at Legion memorial Park in Arlington, Washington, on Saturday, July 22, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Judge blocks parts of Washington’s new parental rights law

The South Whidbey School District is among the plaintiffs in a lawsuit over the law giving parents access to counseling records for their children.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Gold Bar in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Fire destroys Gold Bar home along U.S. 2

The sole resident was not home at the time of the fire. No one was injured.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.