Analysts say al-Shihri's death has 'significant impact' on AQAP

Deputy leader of al Qaeda in Yemen, Saeed al-Shihri, speaks in a video posted on Islamist websites in 2009. [Reuters]

Deputy leader of al Qaeda in Yemen, Saeed al-Shihri, speaks in a video posted on Islamist websites in 2009. [Reuters]

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Analysts and researchers said the death of Said al-Shihri, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's (AQAP) second in command, reflects the state of weakness that the organisation has reached as a result of continued pursuit.

The Yemeni Ministry of Defence announced on its website on Monday (September 10th) the death of al-Shihri and six other al-Qaeda leaders during a military operation in the east of the country.

Officials described al-Shihri's death as "a painful blow to the remaining members of the terrorist group".

Al-Shihri, who is the deputy of AQAP leader Nasir al-Wahishi, was one of the top leaders and founders of the organisation, established in 2009 by a merger between the Yemeni and Saudi branches of al-Qaeda.

'Significant impact'

Researcher Saeed al-Jamhi, director of al-Jamhi Centre for Studies and Research, told Al-Shorfa that "the operation targeting al-Shihri and the army's success in reaching him is a painful blow to al-Qaeda and has a significant negative impact on the organisation's branch in the Arabian Peninsula and on other branches".

He pointed to the series of recent strikes that targeted the organisation, starting with expelling al-Qaeda from Abyan and Shabwa and ending with the series of air strikes that targeted the organisation's leaders recently.

"The painful quality operation that targeted al-Shihri shows al-Qaeda is exposed and vulnerable to security forces. This is a win for the army, which demonstrated steadfastness in its fight [against al-Qaeda]".

Al-Jamhi also said al-Qaeda "is at the beginning of the end", but cautioned that al-Shihri's death alone "will not necessarily lead to al-Qaeda's collapse".

"The importance of al-Shihri's death can be gleaned from his long history in fighting alongside Bin Laden in Afghanistan, followed by his detention in Guantanamo and his return to Saudi Arabia in 2007 to take part in the Munasaha rehabilitation process. After all this, he made a strong comeback to establish the strongest al-Qaeda branch in the world in the Arabian Peninsula".

Al-Shihri also played a role in attracting and recruiting members from Saudi Arabia, according to al-Jamhi.

"Security forces have to continue their campaign against al-Qaeda or else this organisation will come back through the back door," he said.

Al-Qaeda 'lost the hearts and minds of people'

Strategic affairs researcher Dr. Saeed Abdul Momin told Al-Shorfa that "these strikes have quite an impact on al-Qaeda. After losing the areas under its control, the haemorrhaging has affected the group's influential leaders."

"Al-Shihri's importance does not come from the fact that he is al-Qaeda's deputy in the Arabian Peninsula. Rather, he is accused of identifying targets, recruiting members as well as having a hand in training, financing, designing and executing terrorist attacks, not to mention his ability to attract members into the group from Saudi Arabia," he said.

Abdul Momin said during the time al-Shihri lived in Yemen he managed to acquire the expertise to easily move between different regions, disguise himself and forge relationships.

"Al-Qaeda as an international organisation in general, and in the Arabian Peninsula in particular, has started to lose a lot of the spark it used to have in the past years, especially after the death of its most prominent leader, Osama bin Laden who has proven to be hard to replace," Abdul Momin said.

He added that the organisation has "turned against its fellow citizens", causing it to "lose the hearts and minds of people".

Nabil al-Bakiri, Chairman of the Arab Forum for Studies, called for a comprehensive strategy for dealing with al-Qaeda.

"We have to deal with this organisation by taking into consideration all the auxiliary factors that sustain it and allow it to thrive," he told Al-Shorfa.

"We have to get rid of the premises that allow it to exist," he said. "We also need to satisfy people's needs by providing security and stability and imposing state controls to protect sovereignty," al-Bakiri added.

"The only solution is to have an integrated and national vision to deal with this worrying problem and this complex phenomenon," he said. "Without it, al-Qaeda will remain and will spread unless there is a real national will to resolve the matter."

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    القلم الباكي

    2012-9-14

    No for terrorism.

  • ابراهيم ناجي

    2012-9-13

    These leaders are the masterminds and plotters behind all the terrorist operations, and so in order to confront the threat posed by terrorism it is necessary to get rid of these leaders, and consequently, the dismantling of the terrorist groups would become much easier, and they will be eradicated in the Arab region together with the sufferings that they have caused in the hearts of the Arab populations.

  • يوسف زغلول

    2012-9-13

    The existence of a specialized service to collect sufficient information that will help in stopping terrorist activity has become a necessity for the Arab homeland, which is exposed to this phenomenon. Predictability and prediction that can be done by various Arab authorities depend on the success of these devices in the collection and use of information and attribution in all Arab countries. It is not enough in the area where the usual security services are responsible for the collection of information on terrorist activity in Arab countries or information obtained by these services. We must create an independent body in each country, and it needs to communicate directly and indirectly between the Arab states to supply them continuously, in order to achieve greater benefit from them, and they need to interface. Therefore, we can confront the terrorist element in the Arab countries in general, and not in one country without the other. We must face terrorism from its roots and respond collectively. If the Arab countries focus on strengthening this unified Arab service, it will lead to wresting security dominion to their advantage, and the Arab world will have its actual prestige.