A senior al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leader who claimed the group’s responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo massacre and the murder of an American hostage during a botched raid in December has been killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen, it was announced Thursday.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) announced the death of leader Nasr bin Ali al-Ansi and other operatives by a U.S. drone strike in a video, which was verified by security consulting firm and NBC News partner Flashpoint Intelligence.
Al-Ansi had appeared in several militant videos for the group, including one claiming responsibility for the Paris attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 7, which left 12 people dead.
In the 11-minute video titled "Message regarding the blessed raid in Paris," al-Ansi said AQAP "chose the target, laid the plan and financed the operation," according to a translated transcript of the video put out by the group’s official media wing.
Al-Ansi had also previously claimed the group was responsible for killing American hostage Luke Somers following a botched U.S. raid in December, according to Flashpoint.
Somers, 33, had been held by the group for a year before U.S. military forces set out to rescue him in an initial, failed first attempt. AQAP then released a video threatening to kill Somers within three days if their demands were not met.
In a second commando raid, the U.S. military failed to rescue Somers after his captors were alerted to their presence — possibly by a barking dog. The group shot and killed Somers along with a South African hostage. Six militants were also killed during the operation.
- Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula Claims Responsibility for Paris Attack
- Failed Raid in Yemen to Rescue U.S. Hostage Luke Somers Ended Quickly