Ex­e­cu­tion of ‘spies’ re­ported in Ye­men

Wit­nesses say two were ac­cused of aid­ing in the killing of leader of Al Qaeda branch.

Los Angeles Times - - THE WORLD - By Zaid al-Alayaa and Laura King laura.king@latimes.com Spe­cial cor­re­spon­dent Al-Alayaa re­ported from Sana and Times staff writer King from Urfa, Tur­key. Spe­cial cor­re­spon­dent Amro Has­san in Cairo con­trib­uted to this re­port.

SANA, Ye­men — The ret­ri­bu­tion was grue­some — and not long in com­ing.

A day af­ter Al Qaeda’s af­fil­i­ate in Ye­men con­firmed the death of a for­mer se­nior lieu­tenant of Osama bin Laden in an ap­par­ent U.S. drone strike, online im­ages sur­faced of two ac­cused “spies,” and two bod­ies sub­se­quently were shown hang­ing from con­crete over­passes.

Wit­nesses in the south­ern Ye­meni city of Mukalla, which is un­der the con­trol of Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula, or AQAP, said two men were shot in public af­ter be­ing de­nounced for pro­vid­ing in­for­ma­tion that led to the death of Nasir Ab­del-Karim Wahishi. He was de­scribed as Al Qaeda’s No. 2 leader world­wide and was head of the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s Ye­men fran­chise.

In pho­to­graphs posted Wed­nes­day on so­cial media and Ye­meni news sites, two men were pic­tured on a beach, one kneel­ing with his head down and the other seated cross-legged, ap­pear­ing to ar­gue with his cap­tors. Pho­to­graphs posted later showed two corpses splayed cru­ci­fix­ion-style and hang­ing from over­passes.

It could not im­me­di­ately be es­tab­lished whether the photos de­picted the same men.

One of the ex­e­cuted men was iden­ti­fied online by Al Qaeda loy­al­ists as a Saudi citizen, and the sec­ond was be­lieved to be Saudi as well, the As­so­ci­ated Press re­ported.

The Al Qaeda or­ga­ni­za­tion in Ye­men, one of the group’s most feared and lethal branches, an­nounced Wahishi’s “mar­tyr­dom” Tues­day, days af­ter the strike that killed him. The White House con­firmed his death, call­ing Wahishi an “ex­pe­ri­enced ter­ror­ist leader.”

The port city of Mukalla, Ye­men’s fifth-largest, fell to Al Qaeda in April amid chaotic fight­ing else­where in the coun­try be­tween Shi­ite Mus­lim Houthi rebels and forces loyal to ex­iled Pres­i­dent Abdu Rabu Man­sour Hadi.

Al Qaeda quickly an­nounced the ap­point­ment of a re­place­ment for Wahishi, iden­ti­fied as Qasim Raimi, ac­cord­ing to ex­trem­ist fo­rums.

A Ye­meni ex­pert on Is­lamist groups, Saeed Obaid Jamhi, said the highly public ex­e­cu­tions of sus­pected spies prob­a­bly was seen as a means of re­tain­ing the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s pres­tige. He pre­dicted that ma­jor at­tacks also would be at­tempted to avenge Wahishi’s death.

Else­where in Ye­men, med­i­cal of­fi­cials said airstrikes by the Saudi-led coali­tion seek­ing to re­store Hadi to power struck a civil­ian con­voy out­side the port city of Aden, killing more than 30 peo­ple.

And at dusk, at least three ex­plo­sions shook the cap­i­tal, Sana, ap­par­ently tar­get­ing mosques and caus­ing an un­de­ter­mined num­ber of ca­su­al­ties.

Yahya Arhab Euro­pean Pressphoto Agency

SMOKE RISES above a neigh­bor­hood in Sana, the Ye­meni cap­i­tal. Sui­cide bombers re­port­edly tar­geted mosques fre­quented by Houthi sup­port­ers.

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