ISRAEL: The United States military has killed a senior al Qaeda leader by air strike, in the first such attack since an intensive aerial campaign began in Yemen, a US official said.
In a statement, the US Central Command said a strike Thursday in the eastern province of Hadramout “targeted and killed an al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) leader and AQAP facilitator”.
The official added that the attack was carried out as a result of intelligence.
Yemeni security officials said the strike killed Fahd al Quso in a village in Hadramout.
In a video published on social media, Quso is seen declaring allegiance to the Islamic State group.
Quso, a former security chief for the extremist group, was sentenced to death in absentia by a Saudi court in 2012 for his role in the bombing of a French oil tanker MV Limburg in 2002.
France does not recognise Saudi Arabia as the official owner of the tanker, and put a $2.6m bounty on Quso, who is also known as Abu Musab al-Suri.
Quso had crossed into Yemen from Saudi Arabia when the Limburg was struck off the coast of Yemen by a bomb laden bomb in October 2002.
Saudi Arabia had alleged that AQAP had masterminded the attack, which left 85 people dead.
AQAP, the group’s wing in Yemen, has been blamed for some of the deadliest attacks in the region.
Yemeni forces backed by a US-led coalition have been battling to dislodge AQAP from several areas in the north, bringing them just 30 miles from the capital Sanaa.
Thursday’s strike came in the same week the US said that a drone strike killed local AQAP leader Anwar al-Awlaki, who was accused of a number of attacks including an attack on the USS Cole in 2000 that killed 17 American sailors.
In October, the US launched an air strike targeting a “low-level AQAP officer” who AQAP claimed had been killed.
Rear Admiral John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, had told reporters at the time that US authorities were not releasing their findings.