On Wednesday, Al Qaeda militants allegedly killed two Saudis who had been suspected of espionage in Yemen. The men were accused of planting tracking devices which ended up leading to the assassination of the group’s leader and Osama bin Laden’s old right hand man, Nasir Wahishi who is described as being Al Qaeda’s No.2 leader worldwide and head of the organization’s Yemen franchise.
The men were also accused of planting other Al Qaeda commanders with tracking devices who have been killed in recent months. The men, who are believed to be named al-Mutairi and al-Khaledi, were seen on a beach blindfolded with armed Al Qaeda militants. Subsequently, they were put on the corniche in the city of Mukalla and armed militants opened fire on them in front of a large group of Mukalla residents. Social media photos surfaced later of the two men’s corpses tied to wooden planks and hung from a bridge beneath a banner that read, “the House of Saud directs American planes to bomb the holy warriors.”
Mukalla, which is one of Yemen’s largest cities, fell to Al Qaeda in April this year amid the fighting elsewhere in the country between Shiite Muslim Houthi rebels and forces loyal to the exiled President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi. Since then, the country has been in turmoil as Al Qaeda has battled United States drone strikes and its Yemen base claimed responsibility for the deadly Charlie Hebdo attack in France in January.
With the onset of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan beginning on Thursday, the international community has requested a humanitarian truce. After all, since the end of March, at least 2,500 people, mostly civilians, have died in fighting and airstrikes and the majority of Yemen’s population is currently in need of aid. Not only has their country been turned into a warzone, but children have become the victims of the outbreaks of disease, specifically Dengue fever, and those with chronic conditions have been unable to access medical care consistently.
Unfortunately, it does not sound as if there is an end in sight for Yemen. According to Al Qaeda forums, a replacement for Wahishi has likely been chosen already.