By Ahmed Al-haj, Associated Press
SANAA, Yemen (AP) December 22, 2011 — The brother of Yemen’s al-Qaida leader was among dozens of people killed in battles raging for days in the south of the country, security and military officials said Thursday.
A member of a local tribe confirmed that Abdel-Rahman al-Wahishi was killed in fighting Wednesday between Yemen’s military and Islamic militants near the city of Zinjibar.
He was a younger brother of Nasser al-Wahishi, a Yemeni who once served as Osama bin Laden’s personal aide in Afghanistan and now leads al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. The younger al-Wahishi is believed to have been an operative in the group, but it is not clear what his role was in its hierarchy.
The security officials said faulty intelligence had indicated the military was firing on the al-Qaida leader himself, a high-value target for both the United States and Yemen’s government. Further investigation revealed that the leader was not in the area at the time and that the man killed was the younger brother.
At least 51 people, including 18 soldiers, have been killed in the fighting since Sunday, according to an area hospital and the security officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.