Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) publicly executed at least two men accused of spying on behalf of Saudi Arabia and the United States and then hung their bodies from a bridge, reports The Long War Journal.
The alleged spies were accused of playing a pivotal role in assisting U.S. officials locate and then kill AQAP’s senior leaders through drone strike operations.
Some estimates indicate that as many as four alleged spies were executed by the jihadist group.
AQAP’s top leadership, including Nasir al Wuhayshi, the group’s emir and al-Qaeda’s second-in-command, has been decimated by U.S. drone strikes.
Wuhayshi, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike just days ago, co-founded AQAP, considered al-Qaeda’s most potent and dangerous affiliate, and served as Osama bin Laden’s personal assistant.
“Pictures posted by jihadists on social media show the two ‘spies’ kneeling on a beach in the port city of Al Mukallah, with AQAP members circling around them,” reports The Journal. “The men are then shot and their bodies are strung up on a nearby bridge.”
The Long War Journal so far has decided against publishing the graphic photos of the bodies of the two dead men hanging from the bridge.
“There is no way to immediately verify AQAP’s claims regarding the men,” concedes The Journal. “Spies have reportedly infiltrated the group before. And AQAP has executed men accused of espionage on behalf of its enemies in the past.”
“Last year, for instance, the group killed four men who were accused of implanting electronic tracking devices in vehicles targeted by American drones,” it continues. “Social media accounts have buzzed with allegations of AQAP’s infiltration for weeks. One well-connected jihadist media operative known as Al Siyasi al Mutaqaid wrote a lengthy analysis claiming that AQAP’s media arm, Al Malahem Media, had a mole in his ranks.”
Some social media accounts claim that one of the alleged spies who were executed on the beach is Humam Al Hamid, a man identified by Al Mutaqaid as a supposed double agent.
Multiple reports on social media indicate that Al Hamid was detained by AQAP not long ago, reports The Journal.
“One photo purportedly shows al Hamid’s body either before or after his corpse was strung up on a bridge,” it adds. “However, this could not be confirmed as of this writing.”
“The controversy over al Hamid’s purported role is difficult to untangle, as his critics have alleged that he is connected to both the Islamic State, AQAP’s rival, as well as the American and Saudi spy agencies,” also reports The Journal. “It could be the case that these assertions are intended to paint the Islamic State in a negative light within the jihadists’ ranks, as Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s organization is frequently accused of working with the jihadists’ enemies in order to buttress its own cause.”