Al-Qaeda has confirmed the death of one of its top leaders in Yemen following a suspected US drone strike. Hamad bin Hamoud Al Tamimi, also known as Abdel Aziz Al Adnani, was killed on February 26th when a drone targeted his residence in Marib province.
Who was Hamad bin Hamoud Al Tamimi?
The US considers Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to be among the most dangerous of the group’s branches. AQAP identified Hamad bin Hamoud Al Tamimi as a “media official” who had previously managed external operations, including attacks against American interests. Hamad bin Hamoud Al Tamimihad spent four years in a Saudi Arabian prison before traveling to Yemen in 2013, where he expressed a desire to attack “vital” American interests and carry out a suicide attack himself.
Unnamed security and local government sources confirmed Hamad bin Hamoud Al Tamimi’s death and said that he had headed AQAP’s leadership council and acted as the group’s “judge”. A statement from AQAP also noted that another media official, Abu Nasser Al Hadhrami, was a victim of the attack.
What is Al Qaeda’s role in Yemen’s civil war?
AQAP and rival militants loyal to ISIS have thrived in the chaos of Yemen’s eight-year civil war, which pits the Saudi-backed government against Iran-allied Houthi rebels. The group has carried out operations against both the Houthis and government forces as well as sporadic attacks abroad. The US has been targeting AQAP with drones for more than two decades, although the number of reported strikes has dropped in recent years.
The February 26th attack came a month after three alleged AQAP militants were killed in another suspected US drone strike on a car in Marib province. The conflict in Yemen has killed tens of thousands of people and caused what the UN terms the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with millions displaced.
What are the consequences of US counterterrorism operations in Yemen
Concerns have been raised about the impact of these counterterrorism operations on civilian populations in Yemen. In recent years, human rights groups have accused the United States of carrying out unlawful strikes that have killed civilians and violated international law.
According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, U.S. drone strikes in Yemen have killed between 1,244 and 1,416 people, including between 111 and 168 civilians, since 2002.
The United States has defended its actions as necessary to combat terrorism, but some critics argue that the strikes have fuelled anti-American sentiment and undermined efforts to stabilize the country.
Image Credit: REUTERS/Yemen’s Defence Ministry