Washington: The United States has said the death of veteran Al-Qaeda militant Saeed al-Shehri would be a setback for the network`s Yemeni franchise, but would not confirm the killing.
National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden yesterday said the White House had "seen reports" of the killing of Shehri, the deputy leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
"We`re not in a position to confirm his death, but if true, the loss of such a central and well-known figure will set back AQAP`s operations and remove a key voice from its efforts to mobilise extremists in the Arabian Peninsula and around the world," she said.
In a video posted online yesterday, AQAP confirmed the death of Shehri, a co-founder of the group, in a US drone strike at the end of 2012.
His death had been announced several times by Yemeni authorities, most recently on January 24.
Shehri fought with Osama bin Laden`s terror group in Afghanistan and was captured along the Pakistani border in 2001.
He was initially sent to the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay but later handed over to Saudi authorities in 2007.
He went through a controversial extremist rehabilitation program in the kingdom, but disappeared after his release only to resurface later as AQAP`s number two.