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.

Here's a piece of the video clip of al Shehri in the now infamous January, 2009 video announcing the formation of AQAP. Translation is reported to be:

"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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    That Australian paper (none / 0) (#1)
    by gyrfalcon on Sat Jan 09, 2010 at 03:02:18 PM EST
    sure is prophetic.  Thanks very much for posting that link.

    Maybe Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar can ... (none / 0) (#2)
    by Ellie on Sat Jan 09, 2010 at 04:45:53 PM EST
    ... clear it up now that the heat is off.

    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?)

    I think confusing the news media and public with a baffling heirarchy (AQAP? now!?!?!), same sounding names, purported sightings/escapes to a new nearby target country to bomb and a lot of errata is the way to pretend this goatf*ck has a linear, forward progression.

    The unveiling of yet another new, "most evil" poster -- The New Worst Faces of 2010! -- gives pants-crappers time to load up on supplies and learn the new evil ones before Political Sweeps Week, when whatever the most highly rated slot is will be interrupted with routine reminders about gravely dangers.

    Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar have slipped completely off the concern list. I wouldn't be shocked to learn they've been doing commentary somewhere on the Situation Room for ages now.


    I don't know what the point (none / 0) (#3)
    by gyrfalcon on Sat Jan 09, 2010 at 05:18:11 PM EST
    of your comment is.  Jeralyn has been browsing the research that's out there on Yemen, not reprinting White House or even Defense Dept. press releases.

    You might try reading some of the stuff she's linked to here, which is quite fascinating.

    One thing this White House has actually been doing, to its credit, is NOT pretending there's some "linear forward progression" towards dealing with this.  Al Qaeda, or the jihadi movement generally, is not the IRA.  It's more like an amoeba.


    The point is the Pentagon/WH ~PR~ buildup (none / 0) (#4)
    by Ellie on Sat Jan 09, 2010 at 05:49:04 PM EST
    ... and their wild overreaches to make the narrative (and the actions) appear linear for the media to follow along.

    Otherwise, the point of my comment is that this new 2010 Yemen chapter seems more of an over-filigreed, after the fact CYA for intel failures.

    (And since I'm on the keyboard, it deflects from considerable public anger with a huge list of domestic failures.)


    Yes, but (none / 0) (#5)
    by gyrfalcon on Sat Jan 09, 2010 at 07:05:22 PM EST
    none of this is coming from the White House or any part of the administation, so how can it be just a convenient narrative they're pushing?

    I also fail to get how something written by a think tank in another country before this happened can be characterized as an "after the fact CYA" for anything.

    Come on, Ellie.  Skepticism is good, reflexive corrosive cynicism just amounts to wilfully burying one's head in the sand.


    'Reflexive corrosive cynicism'?? (5.00 / 0) (#6)
    by Ellie on Sat Jan 09, 2010 at 11:02:25 PM EST
    About Obama's war escalation and the Pentagon's warmed over hogwash? Yep ... it's got to be my cynicism that's not buying this rather than tired recognition of an all-too-familiar playbook for more needless warmongering.

    Clap louder if you like, but this sequel's as bad as the original.