SANAA, (Reuters) – A leader of al Qaeda’s wing in Yemen was killed by one of his brothers on Thursday in what a Yemeni official described as a family dispute that also led to the brother’s death.
Tareq al-Dahab, brother-in-law of slain U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, died in his stronghold in al-Baydah province, where he was the militant network’s most senior figure, but had also been involved in a tribal leadership struggle.
In another twist, he and his brothers had backed different sides in Yemen’s complicated political scene.
Dahab, son of a powerful tribal sheikh who died two years ago, led a Qaeda assault on the town of Radda some 170 km (105 miles) southeast of the capital Sanaa last month.
“Dahab was killed by his brother Hizam at his residence in the al-Manasih neighbourhood in al-Baydah province during a family dispute,” a security official said.
The slain man’s followers later blew up Hizam’s house, killing him, tribal sources said. A third brother, Nabil al-Dahab, is expected to become al Qaeda’s leader in Baydah.
Tribal sources said Hizam had supported outgoing President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who handed over to his deputy in November after protests in 2011 against his 33-year rule. It was not clear if this was a factor in the deadly fraternal feud.
The Dahab brothers have been embroiled in a succession struggle since their father’s death, tribal sources said. The eldest brother Majid, who supports Yemen’s opposition parties, became the tribal sheikh, but his brothers contested this.
Some of the Dahab brothers joined al Qaeda’s Yemen-based wing, which emerged as one of its most active and ambitious after setbacks to al Qaeda groups in Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has exploited months of anti-Saleh unrest and other simmering conflicts in Yemen to gain and hold swathes of territory, especially in the south.