In his third public appearance since he became the deputy leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula AQAP, Saeed Al-Shihri or as called ‘’Abu Sufyan Al-Azdi” publicized a message denying the news of his promoted death along with the organization’s leader Nasser Al-Wahayshi in an attack by a military aircraft in the Yemeni province of Shabwa on the 24th of last December.
The appearance of Al-Shihri instead of Al-Wahayshi made many analysts say that Al-Wahayshi has been killed while Al-Shihri survived the attack and took command of the organization in Yemen.
The opinions are based on speculation not on information, the appearance of the second man, the wanted No. 31 on the list of the 85 terrorism suspects for the security services in Saudi Arabia.
The list includes two wanted Yemenis, Nasser Al-Wahayshi and Qassim Al-Raimi.
His appearance would send a message that the organization exceeded locality and became an international organization that its Yemeni-Saudi leadership share the responsibility of making decisions and route messages.
And it is not subjected to any form of bureaucracy and centralization as it is ruled by the coordination relations between its leaders. At the same time, the letter addressed to members of the organization in Saudi Arabia as Al-Shihri is in charge of recruitment and funding.
The voice recording of Al-Shihri did not bring up nothing new, he brought repeated threats of operations designed to control Bab Al-Mandab strait, to emphasize that Al Qaeda was behind the attempt by the Nigerian Umar Farouk to attack a U.S. airplane on the eve of New Year’s Day, and to announce that he survived together with the organization leaders of the operations carried out against them in Abyan, Arhab, Shabwa, Al Ashajer and Marib, in addition to telling about the role of Egypt and Saudi Arabia in the war against Al-Qaeda in Yemen.
What’s new in the Saudi Saeed Al-Shihri’s recording is his indication of the plan to have U.S. troops inside Yemen to hunt down Al-Qaeda members. He called it the Petraeus plan in comparative to the U.S. Central Command Chief Gen. David Petraeus, author of the ‘’Practical Guide for Islamic Warriors’’ the war against Al-Qaeda, which was distributed to American fighters in Iraq and Afghanistan.
According to Al-Shihri, Petraeus’s plan was implemented in Iraq and focuses on three parts; first, mobilizing Muslims against each other a so-called (Al-Sahawat) that makes the war between Muslims.
Second, discredit Jihadists actions as sabotage acts such as the bombing of mosques, markets, and the assassination of some prominent Islamic leaders.
Third, broadcasting spies and money for Muslim masses via the international Intelligence.”
Al-Shihri, 35-year-old did not finish high school and worked on trade before joining Al-Qaeda. Yemeni authorities accuse him of being behind the operation that targeted the U.S. embassy in Sana’a.
He did not ignore in his recording to try to mobilize the Yemeni tribes behind Al-Qaeda in the AQAP, where he said the air strikes that targeted the movement was aimed at killing innocent civilians, and that U.S. spy planes are limiting the sites of the coming massacres, which will kill the innocent civilians, according to him.
Like Bin Laden, Al-Dhawaheri, Abu Musab Al-Suri, Naji Ibrahim, Nasser Al-Wuhayshi and other Al-Qaeda leaders, he directed his speeches to the tribes of Yemen in an attempt to emotionally bring them to stand behind Al-Qaeda and to promote it.
Saeed Bin Ali Bin Jaber Al-Shihri, who was arrested near the Pakistani-Afghani border at the end of 2001, trained on the methods of fighting inside cities in a camp located in the north of Kabul, Afghanistan, according to documents disclosed by the Pentagon as part of his file in Guantanamo Bay.
He arrived in Afghanistan two weeks after the September 11 attacks 2001, via Bahrain and Pakistan. Afterward, American interrogators said that he sought to participate in relief efforts. Also, He was wounded during an air strike, and remained hospitalized for one and half months in Pakistan.
Before leaving for Guantanamo Bay, he was detained for six years carrying the number 372 in the prison of Guantanamo Base, then he was received by Saudi Arabia along with 11 others including the former leader of Al-Qaeda Mohammed Al-Awfi who both underwent the counseling program of the Saudi intelligence for a year before he disappeared to appear later in Yemen in mid-2008.
After the appearance of the last audio recording of Al-Shihri, a Yemeni security official initiated to say that the appearance of Al-Shihri points to the correctness of the announcement by the Yemeni Ministry of Defense after the air strike against members of the organization in Shabwa last December that Nasser Al-Wahayshi, Al-Qaeda leader in the AQAP, was killed in the air-strike.
The appearance of Al-Shihri is evidence of becoming actually the leader of the organization instead of Al-Wahayshi.
But, the closest understanding is that the appearance of Al-Shihri is a desire by the organization to give an impression by the level of partnership in decision-making between the Yemeni local leaders and Saudi leaders.
Meanwhile, Al-Shihri succeeded in smuggling his wife Wafa Al-Shihri to Yemen, together with her three children.
According to information broadcasted by the Saudi security services, the ages of the three sons of Wafa Al-Shihri, range between nine years and six months, the first child 9-year-old is called Yusuf from her first husband, Saud Al-Qahtani, second, Wasif five years also of a former husband Abdul Rahman Al-Ghamdi, and the daughter of Saeed Al-Shihri.
That Information adds that the links of Wafa Al-Shihri, who is also known as Omm Hajer to Al-Qaeda, have deepened after her marriage to two persons belonging to Al Qaeda.
The subject of Wafa Al-Shihri and her children, who is classified as the first woman officially listed by the security services as a member of Al-Qaeda, is one of the reasons that could have lead to the assassination of the Saudi Deputy Interior Minister Mohammed Bin Nayef when Abdullah Asiri was meeting with him, where Asiri said in a phone call while he was in Yemen with Mohammed Bin Nayef that among the topics he wants to meet with her about, is the subject of preparing for her return and her children to the Kingdom.
Saeed Al-Shihri got married to Wafa after returning from Guantanamo Bay through her brother, Yusuf Al-Shihri the wanted person No. 85 to the Saudi authorities. He was Saeed’s companion in Guantanamo Bay. Yusuf Al-Shihri was killed in October of 2009 in a clash with Saudi security after he was able with his fellow Raed Al-Harbi to infiltrate the territory of Saudi Arabia. The Saudi intelligence announced that it found in Yusuf Al-Shihri’s phone an audio video recording for Saeed Al-Shihri requesting for financial support.
Al-Shihri asked Al-Qaeda followers in Saudi Arabia to raise money supports for Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in which he said “what your brothers are doing in the land of Yemen of blessed Jihad against the enemies of religion of (Jews and Christians) needs lifeblood and the backbone of jihad, which is money.
The video Saeed Al-Shihri appeared on, with a member of the organization, Mohammed Abdul Karim Al-Ghazali, who was added to the wanted list of the Saudi authorities in Yemen, exposed the way the organization collects donations through persons were sent by registered recommendations of Al-Shihri, where Al-Ghazali tried to use that letter to collect donations from citizens in favor of Al-Qaeda, as he was sent and trusted by Al-Shihri.
According to the Saudi Interior Ministry, that way was followed by the organization to collect donations during last pilgrimage (hajj) season. Saudi security forces seized people carrying video messages on their mobile phones from Ayman Al-Dhawaheri, calling for contribution for the organization.
Al-Shihri added on his letter, “that Prophet Muhammed peace be upon him said: ‘’’fight the polytheists with your wealth, yourselves and your tongues’’’. This is our brother, the bearer of this letter is one of the scholars we have, and he left to invite you to what has been commanded by God (Allah) in the process of spending your money on Jihad.”
This is what calls to say that Al-Shihri is responsible for the financing and recruitment processes within the organization. The large amount funding for Al-Qaeda in Yemen still comes from supporters of Al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia.
The recent Al-Shihri speech about the coordination efforts with the organization of the Young Mujahideen in Somalia; perhaps is a first step towards integration with them in a standardized format, in addition to distract the Western intelligence services and security services of Yemen and turn them toward Somalia, to enable the organization to catch its breath and plan for retaliatory operation in a place far from Bab Al-Mandab, which may lead to the disruptions and increase the readiness of security, which would increase the expenses of protecting specially protecting vessels there, as a part of the attrition strategy followed by the organization.
Al-Shihri statements established an additional burden on Yemen relating to the credibility of the official announcements about the victories achieved in the fight against Al-Qaeda on the ground, where still most of the leaders of Al-Qaeda in Yemen have the ability to plan attacks against Yemeni and foreign interests.
The fighters from Saudi citizens form a great danger, not against Yemen only but also against Saudi Arabia, where the organization stated more than once its desire to launch attacks against Saudi Arabia from Yemen.