London, Asharq Al-Awsat – DNA tests conducted on the body of the individual believed to be Saeed al-Shihri, the second man in command in Al-Qaeda Organization, has revealed that the dead man is not Al-Shihri, according to an official Yemeni source.
The source, who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity said in a telephone interview that, “Saeed Ali Al-Shihri was not killed in the raid that targeted a number of Al-Qaeda’s fighters in Dadramawt a few weeks ago.”
The source added that, “After conducting DNA test on the deceased, it has become certain that he is not al-Shihri who is wanted by international and Yemeni authorities.”
However, the source did confirm that a number of commanders from the Al-Qaeda Organization were killed in the air attack in the Hadramawt Governorate, in the east of the country. When asked by Asharq Al-Awsat on the reasons that led the security services to announce that al-Shihri was killed, the source said that “they were confused because of a wound on the leg of the deceased that matched a wound that Al-Shihri has that requires him to use a walking stick.” On the reason of announcing the killing of Al-Shihri more than once by Yemen, the official source said that this is due to the chaos in the official and private media in Yemen, adding that, “the mass media, including the official media, are after a scoop, and also the official statements are not disciplined.”
Yemeni authorities have announced the killing of Al-Shihri on more than one occasion. The Yemeni Defense Ministry website quoted a high ranking official as saying that Al-Shihri was killed along with “six terrorist elements who were accompanying him.” The site added that “Al-Shihri’s killing is a painful blow to the remnants of the terrorist elements.” Al-Shihri is the deputy of Nasir al-Wuhayshi, the leader of Al-Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula, which was established through the merge of the Yemeni and Saudi branches of Al-Qaeda at the beginning of 2009.
Al-Shihri was detained in Guantanamo and was then returned to Saudi Arabia in 2007 where he attended the Care program designed for extremists, but he then re-joined Al-Qaeda in Yemen.
Yemeni media sources close to Al-Qaeda said that the organization has admitted the killing of the Yemeni commanders Muhammad Ahmad Dradish, Al-Battar al-Baydani, and two others, stressing that Al-Shihri was not with them and has not been killed. The Yemeni News Agency, SABA, said that a competent team from the Criminal Investigation has gone to Sayun and Al-Qutun Hospital to take samples from 15 bodies of Al-Qaeda members who were killed in the air raid and who are still yet to be identified.