SITE reports Al Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula's No 2 is dead

The Saudi newspaper Al Hayat also reports the death of Saeed Al Shehri, quoting family members who say he died in mid December

The second-in-command of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has died, a hardline Islamist said in his Twitter account, according to a report today by the SITE Intelligence group.

The Islamist, Abdullah bin Muhammad, said Saeed Al Shehri, a Saudi, has died "after a long journey in fighting the Zio-Crusader campaign", according to SITE.

Mr Muhammad gave no details about Shehri's alleged death which also remained unconfirmed by Islamist websites and the Saudi and Yemeni authorities.

However, the Saudi-owned daily Al Hayat reported today that members of Shehri's family said he had died of wounds sustained in a US drone attack in Yemen during the second half of December.

Last October, Shehri denied a September 10 announcement by Yemen's defence ministry that he had been killed in an army raid, in an audio message posted on extremist internet forums.

The militant leader was released from Guantanamo Bay in Cuba in 2007 and was flown to Saudi Arabia where he was put through a rehabilitation programme.

But after completing the programme, Shehri disappeared and later resurfaced as AQAP's No 2.

AQAP, led by Nasser Al Wuhayshi, is classified by the United States as the most active and deadly wing in the global Al Qaeda network.

In October 2000, AQAP militants attacked the US navy destroyer USS Cole in Aden, Yemen, killing 17 sailors and wounding 40 more.

Although weakened, the group continues to launch deadly attacks on Western and government targets across Yemen.