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Al Qaeda acknowledges U.S. drone kills its No. 2 man in Yemen

By Saad Abedine and Ben Brumfield, CNN
July 17, 2013 -- Updated 1003 GMT (1803 HKT)
A screen shot of a video shows al Qaeda's No. 2 man in Yemen Said al-Shihri on October 6, 2010.
A screen shot of a video shows al Qaeda's No. 2 man in Yemen Said al-Shihri on October 6, 2010.
  • Hardly anyone has been rumored dead as often as al-Shihri
  • He was once a prisoner in Guantanamo
  • He was released in 2008 to his native Saudi Arabia
  • But he made a break for Yemen, rising to its leadership ranks

(CNN) -- Hardly anyone has been rumored dead as often as al Qaeda's No. 2 man in Yemen.

Said al-Shihri has emerged from the aftermath of drone strikes in the past to lambast the CIA for trying to kill him.

It seems it finally did.

A message on jihadi websites announced his death Tuesday. It was purportedly posted by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

It did not say when or where al-Shihri died, just that a U.S. drone took his life sometime after the first week of April.

Al-Shihri's career as a terrorist leader has its roots in the U.S. detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

He was released in 2008 to his native Saudi Arabia under the condition that he not travel outside the country.

He quickly disobeyed the order to join a fellow former Guantanamo inmate with AQAP in Yemen, where he climbed to the number two slot in 2009.

The CIA promptly put drones in the air with him in its crosshairs, and Yemeni authorities erroneously reported deadly direct hits.

Shortly afterward, al-Shihri would pop up on jihadist websites to correct the reports.

The occurrences repeated themselves -- most recently, in January.

In April, al-Shihri issued a threat to the Saudi royal family for allegedly conspiring with American "crusaders" against "the faithful people of Yemen."

The jihadi statement said the airstrike killed him sometime after that.

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