The US Department of State has added a top al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leader who has been involved in plots to target US diplomatic facilities in Yemen and worldwide, as well as attacks against Yemeni troops, to its list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists. The US targeted the AQAP leader a drone strike late last year.
Shawki Ali Ahmed al Badani, “a leader and operative” in al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, was added to the US’ terrorism list earlier today, State said in a press release announcing the designation. Badani “has long been involved in terrorist activity as a member of the group.”
Badani “played a key role in a plan for a major attack in summer 2013 that led the United States to close 19 diplomatic posts across the Middle East and Africa.”
The diplomatic facilities were closed after American officials learned that al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri had communicated, via a complex Internet-based system, with more than 20 al Qaeda operatives around the world. The al Qaeda terrorists reportedly discussed a possible attack on a US embassy or consulate. During the communications, Zawahiri also made it known that he had appointed Nasir al Wuhayshi, the head of AQAP, as the new general manager of al Qaeda’s global operations.
Additionally, Badani “reportedly assigned an AQAP operative to target the US Embassy in Sanaa, Yemen, for attacks” in 2012, State said.
He is also “connected to a suicide bomber who killed over 100 Yemeni soldiers in a May 2012 attack,” State reported. In that attack, a suicide bomber detonated in the middle of a formation of troops from the Central Security Organization, a paramilitary branch of the Ministry of the Interior, as they practiced for a parade.
Badani has been described by the Yemeni government as one of “the most dangerous terrorists affiliated with al Qaeda.” In 2013, the Yemeni government offered a reward of $100,000 for information leading to his capture.
Badani has been targeted by US drones in Yemen at least once, with disastrous results. On Dec. 12, 2013, US drones targeting Badani accidentally killed 15 civilians as they traveled in a wedding party in Rada’a in the central province of Baydah.