The White House on Tuesday confirmed that the leader of Al-Qaeda’s Yemen branch, Nasser al-Wuhayshi, has been killed in an airstrike, Reuters reported, calling the death a "major blow" to the organization.
Al-Wuhayshi was the head of the Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) terrorist group. Two Yemeni officials had said on Monday that he was killed in a suspected American drone strike in Yemen's Hadramout region.
"The president has been clear that terrorists who threaten the United States will not find safe haven in any corner of the globe," the White House said in a statement referring to al-Wuhayshi’s death.
"While AQAP, Al-Qaeda, and their affiliates will remain persistent in their efforts to threaten the United States, our partners, and our interests, (his) death removes from the battlefield an experienced terrorist leader and brings us closer to degrading and ultimately defeating these groups," added the statement, quoted by Reuters.
In a video that surfaced in April last year, al-Wuhayshi made clear that he's going after the United States, saying, "We must eliminate the cross. … The bearer of the cross is America!"
The video showed what looked like the largest and most dangerous gathering of Al-Qaeda in years.
Originally from Yemen, al-Wuhayshi assumed command of AQAP in 2009. He had escaped a Yemeni prison in 2006, and had previously worked as a personal secretary for Osama bin Laden.