Al-Qaida in Yemen Announces Death of Leader Khalid al-Batarfi

Last Updated on March 11, 2024 3:16 pm

Late on Sunday, Al-Qaida’s Yemen branch announced the death of its leader, Khalid al-Batarfi. The group released a video showing al-Batarfi wrapped in a funeral shroud adorned with the al-Qaida black-and-white flag. The video did not provide details about the circumstances of his death, and there were no visible signs of trauma on his face. Khalid al-Batarfi, who led the al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), had a $5 million bounty on his head from the US government.

The announcement comes on the eve of Ramadan, with the militant group stating that Saad bin Atef al-Awlaki would take over as the new leader. Al-Awlaki is subject to a $6 million bounty from the US, as he has publicly called for attacks against the United States and its allies.

AQAP has been regarded by the US as the most dangerous branch of the extremist group since its attempt to bomb a commercial airliner over the United States in 2009. The group claimed responsibility for the 2015 attack on the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

Khalid al-Batarfi assumed leadership of AQAP in February 2020, succeeding Qassim al-Rimi, who was killed in a US drone strike in 2020. Al-Rimi had claimed responsibility for the 2019 attack at the US Naval Air Station Pensacola.

Al-Batarfi, born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, had a history of involvement with the Taliban in Afghanistan and joined AQAP in 2010. He led forces in taking over Yemen’s Abyan province and was captured during an AQAP raid in 2015.

Despite claims of al-Batarfi’s detention in 2020, he continued to be active, and in 2021, he made reference to the January 6 riot at the US Capitol, stating it was “only the tip of the iceberg of what will come to them, God willing.” The circumstances surrounding al-Batarfi’s death remain unclear, but his passing marks a significant development in the ongoing fight against terrorism in the region.

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