On Friday, a U.S. drone strike in Yemen very likely killed the leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a U.S. counterterrorism official said Monday.
Naser Abdel-Karim Wahishi has been a target for several years because of his role in Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, considered by many experts to be the most dangerous of the organization's affiliates. He is also a deputy of Al Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri. Under Wahishi's watch, AQAP militants have attempted to smuggle sophisticated bombs onto planes headed to the United States. Officials have been working to verify reports from Yemen that Wahishi was killed in a drone attack in the port city of Mukalla, but there is "no reason to doubt that claim," the counterterrorism official told the Los Angeles Times.
UPDATE: Early Tuesday, Al Qaeda confirmed Wahishis's death and said that Qassim al-Rimi, AQAP's No. 2, has been named its new leader.