Al Qaeda’s second in command, Nasir al-Wuhayshi, has been killed in a drone strike in Yemen, dealing a heavy setback to the leadership of the international terrorist group.
Al-Wuhayshi was the top leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, one of the most dangerous and dynamic branches of the jihadist network.
His death is “the biggest blow against al Qaeda since the death of (Osama) bin Laden,” said CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank.
Al-Wuhayshi was al Qaeda’s “leading light” and was one day expected to take over from its current global chief, Ayman al-Zawahiri, said Cruickshank.
Two Yemeni security officials told CNN on Monday that al-Wuhayshi was killed Friday in a suspected U.S. drone strike in Yemen’s Hadhramaut region.
On Tuesday, AQAP released a video statement announcing that its leader and two aides had died. The speaker said that al-Wuhayshi would be succeeded by the group’s military chief, Qasm al-Rimi, also known as Abu Hureira al-Sanaani.