Al-Qaeda Yemen Branch Says Its Ideological Leader Killed in US Drone Strike

Washington, D.C.

Ibrahim al-Rubaish, the ideological leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), has been killed by a “Crusader raid,” the jihadi group said in a statement released Tuesday.

The AQAP statement revealed that its leader was killed in a drone strike. The United States is the only country that operates UAVs in the country.

Al-Rubaish, who was previously held in the United States’s Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba, was released in 2006 to his home country of Saudi Arabia. He was captured while engaging in jihad against coalition forces on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

Shortly after his release to the Saudis, al-Rubaish managed to escape Saudi Arabia and shortly thereafter became a leader for the Yemen Al-Qaeda branch, which the Central Intelligence Agency considers to be the most threatening to the U.S. homeland.

In January, the AQAP leader released a video that revealed his group considered France their new number one enemy. The video came on the heels of the AQAP-sponsored attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo, which took the lives of 12 innocents.

In 2014, the U.S. State Department offered a $5 million reward for information on his location. In the bounty offer, authorities described al-Rubaish as “a senior AQAP Sharia official and advisor who provides the justification for the group’s attacks and participates in attack planning.”

In 2013, the AQAP leader, in his call for jihad against the United States, said, “It is my duty to spur the Muslims to kill the Americans, to get them out of Muslims’ land.”

Yemeni and U.S. authorities have not yet commented on the AQAP memo that said al-Rubaish has been killed.