Al Qaeda’s Yemen Branch Says Its Leader Has Died

The Yemen-based branch of Al Qaeda said on Sunday that its leader, Khaled Batarfi, had died.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, known as A.Q.A.P., released a video announcing Mr. Batarfi’s death, showing images of him wrapped in a white funeral shroud overlaid with a black Al Qaeda flag. It did not explain how he had died.

The United States government once considered Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to be one of the world’s most dangerous terrorist organizations. The group tried and failed at least three times to blow up American airliners, and has been targeted by American drone strikes for two decades. But in that time, its power and ability to carry out attacks outside of Yemen have both diminished, according to scholars who study the group.

“It will be interesting to observe whether the group charts a new course in coming months,” said Gregory D. Johnsen, a Yemen expert at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. “A.Q.A.P. has struggled in recent years, losing territory and recruits and, at the moment, is a shadow of its former self.”

In the video statement, Ibrahim Al-Qosi, a Sudanese senior leader in the group, expressed his “heartfelt condolences and sincere regret” over the death of Mr. Batarfi.

He said that the group’s new leader would be Saad bin Atef al-Awlaki, of Yemen. The United States previously offered a $6 million reward for information about Mr. al-Awlaki, and $5 million for tips about Mr. Batarfi.

Born in Saudi Arabia, Mr. Batarfi traveled in the 1990s to Afghanistan and fought alongside the Taliban before joining Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen, according to a U.S. informational sheet about him. He was believed to have been in his 40s when he died.

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