Washington » A senior member of the al-Qaida spinoff group behind the failed Christmas Day airline attack was killed as part of a U.S.-Yemeni counterterrorism campaign, the terror group announced.
Nayif al-Qahtani's death was revealed in an al-Qaida Arabian Peninsula newsletter a week after the U.S. slapped terror sanctions on him.
Gregory Johnsen, a terrorism expert at Princeton University who reviewed the Arabic newsletter, said Thursday that al-Qahtani was a pioneering figure who helped turn Yemen's upstart group into a formidable terrorist network. The group surprised U.S. officials in December when it nearly detonated a bomb aboard a U.S.-bound jetliner. The bomb failed to detonate but revealed persistent gaps in the U.S. intelligence system. A Nigerian man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was charged with the attempted bombing. U.S. intelligence officials have linked him directly to Yemen's al-Qaida group.
Al-Qaida in Yemen says terror leader killed