US Looking Into Reports of Top Al Qaeda Leader’s Death

Nasir al-Wahashi leads AQAP, potential heir to all al Qaeda.

Rumors circulated today among jihadists online that Nasir al-Wahishi, head of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), was killed in recent days in an American strike in Yemen.

A spokesperson for the Yemeni Embassy in Washington, Mohammed Albasha, tweeted earlier today that his government had “no confirmation” on al-Wahishi’s fate. The American intelligence official who spoke to ABC News declined to comment further than to say the U.S. is investigating.

Al-Wahishi, like other high-profile terror figures, has been reported dead before, only to emerge to disprove the rumors.

U.S. officials have said for years that AQAP represents the greatest threat to the American homeland from an al Qaeda affiliate. The group is believed to count among its members Ibrahim al-Asiri, a diabolical bomb-maker responsible for a series of elaborate, if failed attempts to attack the U.S. by hiding explosives in planes bound for the homeland.

American airstrikes have taken out targets in Yemen in the past – most notably American citizen-turned-al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in 2011.

Belmokhtar was once a senior commander of another al Qaeda affiliate, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), before he had a falling out with the group in 2013 and split off to form his own organization.

The U.S. is still assessing whether the strike targeting Belmokhtar was successful. He has also been reported dead several times before.