Yemeni government officials called the latest strikes targeting al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) "massive and unprecedented." There are unconfirmed reports by an unnamed Yemeni government source that AQAP's sophisticated bomb-maker Ibrahim Hassan Al-Asiri is among those killed in the weekend strikes. Al-Asiri is believed to be the mastermind that constructed the PETN explosive device sewn into the underwear of a suicide bomber who attempted to detonate the device during a Christmas Day 2009 flight over Detroit.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, also known as al-Qaeda in Yemen has been largely considered an al-Qaeda affiliate rather than part of the terrorist organization. International terrorism experts and U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials have increasingly warned that the al-Qaeda branch based in Yemen's highly skilled bomb makers and technology savvy innovators have made the Yemen branch the largest threat to U.S. security.
In 2013, the appointment of Nasir al-Wahishi, the leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to number two in charge of the terrorist group worldwide greatly expanded the center of al-Qaeda from the Afghanistan-Pakistan region to the entire Arab world.
Last week, audio and video recordings that surfaced on internet Jihadist forums showed hundreds of masked men at an undisclosed location waving al Qaeda’s black flag and welcoming a group that escaped a prison earlier this year. In the AQAP released video, Nasir al Wuhayshi states that U..S. targets remain a top priority.
"O brothers, the Crusader enemy is still shuffling his papers, so we must remember that we are always fighting the biggest enemy, the leaders of disbelief, and we have to overthrow those leaders, we have to remove the Cross, and the carrier of the Cross is America."
Nasir al Wuhayshi is not believed to be among the al-Qaeda members killed in the latest drone strikes.