Hamad al-Tamimi was a top leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the jihadist branch considered by Washington to be the most dangerous

US eliminates al-Qaeda leader in Yemen drone strike

photo_camera REUTERS/JOSH SMITH - A US serviceman guides a US Air Force MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft as it heads for the runway at Kandahar airfield, Afghanistan

Another blow for al-Qaeda in a new US operation, this time in Yemen. Hamad bin Hamaoud al Tamimi, one of the leaders of the jihadist group's branch in the Arabian Peninsula, has been killed along with his bodyguard after a drone strike in the northern region of Marib. 

Also known as Abdel Aziz al-Adnani, Tamimi headed AQAP's leadership council and acted as the "judge" of the militant group, considered by the US to be the most dangerous branch of the jihadist network. He is also considered one of the organisation's most important leaders, close to current AQAP leader Khaled Batarfi. A Saudi national, al-Tamimi joined al-Qaeda in 2002 and was arrested and imprisoned five years later in al-Tarfiya Prison in Saudi Arabia. In 2012 he rejoined the terrorist organisation, this time in Yemen, after being released from prison.

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AQAP has compounded the already vulnerable situation of an endless civil war by carrying out several operations against Houthi and government forces, and sporadic attacks abroad as well. In recent years, Washington has carried out several drone strikes against the leaders of the jihadist group, a recurrent target for US policy. The latest of these resulted in the death of three al-Qaeda militants following an airstrike while they were travelling in their car in Marib. Among them was Hassan al-Hadrami, an explosives expert. 

The al-Qaeda presence in the Arabian Peninsula came hand in hand with the power vacuum that Yemen suffered after the arrival of the Arab Spring in 2011 and the resignation of Saleh, the president who had ruled the country since before the reunification of Yemen and who had been in office for 21 years. A lack of power that not only gave way to al-Qaeda to gain ground in the region, but also promoted the emergence of some previously repressed and marginalised groups, such as the Ansarullah Shiites in the north - the Houthis who now contest power - or al-Hirak in the south, the separatist movement that advocates a return to the previous borders of the 1990s.  

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In any case, the al-Hadi government, the president who assumed the presidency and aspired to alleviate the power crisis, was cut short by a coup d'√©tat that plunged Yemen into a civil war that, almost ten years later, shows no signs of abating. A conflict in which AQAP has played an important role, controlling inland territories and coastal regions. 

The war between the Iranian-backed Houthis and the coalition of Arab states led by Saudi Arabia has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people and has triggered what the United Nations called the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Americas Coordinator: José Antonio Sierra.

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