Strike kills senior al-Qaeda leader in Yemen's Abyan province

By Nabil Abdullah al-Tamimi in Aden


Yemeni pro-government forces ride military vehicles as they head to Zinjibar, the capital of Yemen's southern province of Abyan, to launch an offensive to recapture the town from al-Qaeda on August 14th, 2016. [Saleh al-Obeidi/AFP]

A drone strike on Sunday (September 9th) killed four al-Qaeda members, including a senior leader, in Yemen's southern Abyan province, according to local media.

The strike targeted Ali Shana, also known as Sameh al-Marami or Sameh al-Zinjibari, who was deputy to al-Qaeda leader in Abyan Jalal Belaidi (killed in February 2016).

It also targeted three of Shana's companions in Wadi al Murun in Khabar al-Maraqsha, Ahwar district, local sources said.

"Targeting al-Qaeda leader Ali Shana is part of the global war on terror, given that he was one of the first al-Qaeda leaders in Abyan province, second only to Jalal Belaidi," political analyst Adnan al-Humairi told Al-Mashareq.

Targeting Shana was the fruit of a September 5th visit by US Central Command chief Gen. Joseph Votel to Aden, during which he met with the army's chief of staff Maj. Gen. Taher al-Aqili, said al-Humairi.

"They agreed to keep fighting terrorism in Yemen until security and stability have been restored to a federal Yemen," he said.

This was the first visit by a top US commander to Yemen since the outbreak of war in the country in 2015.

Al-Qaeda cornered in Abyan

"The death of Shana is extremely important and a major security gain as it will affect the movements of al-Qaeda elements in Abyan," al-Humairi said.

"Al-Qaeda’s movements following the killing of Shana will be limited," he said.

But the group might resort to spreading chaos by targeting security officials through hit and run attacks, he said, urging security leaders and agencies to raise the level of alert and readiness.

In late August, al-Qaeda attacked security checkpoints belonging to UAE-backed Security Belt forces in Lawdar and Ahwar districts of Abyan province.

Lawdar security chief Col. Mohammed Homsan al-Awdhali on August 20th survived an assassination attempt when suspected al-Qaeda gunmen opened fire on his motorcade as it passed through Shohat intersection, east of Lawdar district.

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