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Death of Yemen militant a setback for Al-Qaeda: US

A photo released on July 17, 2013 shows Al-Qaeda deputy leader in the Arabian Peninsula Sheikh Saeed al-Shehri
A handout photo released on July 17, 2013 shows an image of Al-Qaeda deputy leader in the Arabian Peninsula Sheikh Saeed al-Shehri, aka Abu Sufyan al-Azdi. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has confirmed on July 17, 2013 the death in a US drone str

The United States on Wednesday 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 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 mobilize extremists in the Arabian Peninsula and around the world," she said.

In a video posted online Wednesday, 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.

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