Yemen Retracts Claim of Capture of AQAP Deputy Leader Saeed al Shehri

Update: The Yemen Observer retracts: it confused Saeed with his brother Yousef, who was captured. But Yousef was killed in October, this makes no sense. Another version of Yousef's death here.

The Yemen Observer reports AQAP deputy leader al Shehri has been captured:

A car carrying members of al-Qaeda was turned over when attempted to bypass a newly established sudden checkpoint by the Yemeni security units today and resulted in the capture of Saeed al-Shehri, the second person in command of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, security source told the Yemen Observer. The car was going in a high speed and was carrying al-Shehri and other al-Qaeda militants and flipped over in the district of Sylan in Shabwah near the borders of Marib province. All the militants were captured.

Saeed al Shehri is the former Guantanamo detainee who went through the Saudi rehabilitation program and emerged as the group's Deputy Leader in the video announcement of AQAP. (Leader #1 is Nasir al-Wuhayshi. More on the top leaders here.))

Is the news report valid? AQAP is now saying Yemen did not kill Qassim al Raymi this week as previously claimed: [More...]

Gregory Johnson at Waq al Waq found an AQAP statement of denial in the Mareb Press. The actual statement is in Arabic. Obviously, I don't read Arabic, but using a Google translator page, I think it says he was wounded in the stomach but able to attend a "thanksgiving" dinner of the group.

A source very close to the tribal Alcboigny loss in the governorate of Marib Marib Press site said his house yesterday witnessed a luncheon attended by several members of al Qaeda, and said that the banquet is part of the expression "thank God" for the safety cell members or leaders were present Olajeshr in the province of Al-Jouf.

The number of private sources for the site of Marib that the majority if not all of those who were present at the Alojeshr were not hurt, where sources said that the loss Alcboigny and others who were in the area were seen at the luncheon without any wounds or scratches Ianmlat thus enhancing the survival of both was present, while favored by some to be infected Qasim al-Rimi Basta injury in the stomach by the novel special.

I realize that's a dismal translation, hopefully there will be a direct translation soon, or else additional confirmation by the Yemenis as to al Raymi.

If they did get al Shehri and al Raymi, while not the end of AQAP, it's significant. Especially, I think, because al Shehri is the one who has gone to great lengths to assimilate himself with the tribes. If he's lost the protection of the tribes, cleric al Awlaki will probably be the next one they capture. (See this report on AQAP and the tribes in Yemen.)If they didn't, and are just claiming they did, that's troubling.

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