Wednesday, 23 April 2014

High airstrike tempo in Yemen may have killed bombmaker

Al Qaeda head bombmaker Ibrahim al-Asiri may have been killed late April 20 in a US UAV strike on a car driving between Makhah and Bayhan districts in Yemen's Shabwa governorate, a security source said, Baraqish reported April 21…Witnesses said a helicopter landed near where the strike hit and soldiers collected four bodies from the car…American UAV and fixed-wing aircraft conducted airstrikes on al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) training camps over the weekend…Over 30 militants are suspected to have been killed within the past week in an unprecedented uptick of military action against the group…The assumed death of al-Asiri is difficult to verify considering the constraints on independent journalism in Yemen, but if true it signals a significant loss of capability for AQAP…Spending time on damage assessment by deploying US helicopters to the site indicates a high-value target might have been involved, but that target may not be Al-Asiri…If al-Asiri is dead AQAP will struggle to replace his innovative talents quickly, if ever, and are unlikely to successfully attack transnational targets in the short term…If al-Asiri has not been killed he could take this opportunity to disappear into the shadows to avoid observation…The greatest loss will be on AQAP’s home-front in Yemen where al-Asiri’s bombmaking skills were a huge fighting boost against the Yemeni government…AQAP will remain a threat, but given the steep learning curve necessary for competent bombmaking and the current high tempo of US counterterror operations, the group is struggling to export their fight outside Yemen.

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