Sources: Al Qaeda No. 2 killed in Yemen

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

HADHRAMAUT, Yemen — Top al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) leader Nasir al-Wuhayshi was killed Friday in a suspected U.S. drone strike in Yemen’s Hadramout region, according to two Yemeni national security officials.

Tweets from known AQAP operatives also speak of al-Wuhayshi having been martyred, and of AQAP military commander Qasm al-Rimi (also known as Abu Hureira al-Sanaani) having been appointed as al-Wuhayshi’s replacement.

U.S. authorities are looking to confirm al-Wuhayshi’s death, according to one U.S. intelligence official.

Al-Wuhayshi was the No. 2 leader of al Qaeda globally and the head of AQAP. In a video that surfaced in April last year, the man who was known as al Qaeda’s crown prince appeared brazenly out in the open, greeting followers.

In a speech to the group, al-Wuhayshi makes it clear that he’s going after the United States, saying: “We must eliminate the cross. … The bearer of the cross is America!”

The video showed what looked like the largest and most dangerous gathering of al Qaeda in years.

Originally from Yemen, al-Wuhayshi assumed command of AQAP in 2009. He’d escaped a Yemeni prison in 2006, and had previously worked as a personal secretary for Osama bin Laden.

“If it’s true, it is a significant blow. Leadership matters,” Sen. Angus King, an independent of Maine, told CNN.

King said the death would hurt al Qaeda, but stressed the group still poses a threat.

“This is a long, difficult struggle that we’re engaged in, and it’s going to require all kinds of tools,” King said.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.