The Top Bad Guys in AQAP in Yemen
David Kenner at Foreign Policy presents the top 4 bad guys in AQAP in Yemen with photos: there's the group's leader, Nasir al-Wuhayshi, cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, former Guantanamo detainee Said al-Shehri (who was released into the Saudi Rehab program but left), Qasim al-Raymi and Hizam Mujali.
Gregory Johnson at Waq al-Waq says:
I think 'Adil al-'Abab, Ibrahim al-Rubaysh and Muhammad al-Rashad are much more important than Anwar al-'Awlaqi and Hizam Mujali. But there is little argument on the top three: Nasir al-Wahayshi, Said Ali al-Shihri and Qasimal-Raymi.
Johnson says al-Raymi is "the single most dangerous individual in the organization." While he was never at Gitmo, his brother is.
I also like this November, 2009 Australian think-tank study on the importance of AQAP's relationship with the tribes in Yemen.[More...]
And, in the soap opera department, Al-Shehri's wife's ex-husband (al Qahtani) pleads for the return of his 10 year old son Yousef. He says his ex-wife, Umm Yousef, the mother of their son Yousef, is the brother of a released Guantanamo detainee Yousef. Yousef and his friend Saeed al-Shehri were released together and Yousef fixed her up with al-Shehri, whom she married. When al-Shehri fled to Yemen from the Saudi rehab camp, Umm Yousef went with him, taking 10 year old Yousef. (Are you confused yet?)
Early 2009, however, Al-Qahtani was informed that his ex-wife’s new husband Saeed Al-Shehri, had disappeared and was thought to have gone to Yemen. “I was taken aback, but it didn’t occur to me that it would signify Umm Yousef going to Yemen as well, especially with her two children.”
In May, Al-Qahtani received a telephone call telling him that his son had failed to appear at school for five consecutive days.
“I presumed at first that it was because of the huge sandstorm that was affecting Riyadh at the time, but later I called Yousef’s grandmother and she told me her daughter and Yousef had gone missing from their home in Al-Naseem. They had checked all the hospitals and everywhere, but with no luck.”
After waiting several days for more information, Al-Qahtani was finally struck with the news that would “turn my life upside down”, when he was informed that Umm Yousef – who now went by the alias Umm Hajir Al-Azdi – had fled with her brother Yousef to Yemen to meet up with her husband, and had taken Yousef and her daughter by Abdul Rahman, Wasayef, with her.
“Since that day I’ve hardly been able to take my mind off it,” Al-Qahtani said. “I don’t know where my son is sleeping, what he’s eating, or where he’s living. What have those children done to be living in mountains and caves?”
Yousef Al-Shehri (also spelled al Shihri)was killed in a shootout at the Saudi-Yemen border in October, 2009 when he tried to bring suicide vests into Saudi Arabia.(One version of the story is here, although it has him as the younger brother of Saeed rather than brother-in-law. Another is here.) He was 16 when seized on the battlefield in Afghanistan and was then shipped to Guantanamo and released in 2007.
Also in the soap department, Saeed al-Shehri's father has disowned him:
“In the video I saw Saeed turning into a beggar for Al-Qaeda. Shame on him.”“If Saeed does not go back to the right path, may Allah take his life, so that the Muslims may be relieved of his evil and sick mind,” the father said.
“My son lacks intelligence and solid knowledge of religion as his education did not go beyond third grade. So how could people trust and give to an ignorant and sick person like him?” Al-Khutheim added.
"By Allah, imprisonment only increased our persistence in our principles for which we went out, did jihad for, and were imprisoned for. And today here we are, O our Sheikh, Allah has blessed us with migration to the land of provision and jihad; the land of Yemen and faith, pledging allegiance to our brother, Abu Baseer Nasr al-Wahayshi, may Allah preserve him."
So, will 10 year old Yousuf be saved and returned to his real father in Saudi Arabia? Stay tuned.
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