Officials are reporting a pair of US drone strikes in Yemen which killed at least 12 people. All of them, according to the reports, were “militants” or at the very least “militant suspects.” Only one of the slain was actually named.
That was Jalal Baleedi, who was killed in the Abyan Province, in a strike that destroyed the car he was riding in. The State Department accused Baleedi of “planning attacks on Western targets” in 2013 and placed a $5 million bounty on him.
But exactly what Baleedi was doing now seems to be a matter of no small speculation, with initial reports labeling him a “top commander” in al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and others claiming he defected from AQAP and was the “leader” of the ISIS affiliate in Yemen.
The claims of Baleedi having split with AQAP don’t make a lot of sense now, however, given the drone strike targeted him in a territory with significant AQAP presence, and not an area believed to have any particular ISIS presence.