Political Analysis

Al-Qaeda Commander Appears On Yemen’s Hadhramout Presidential Palace

National Yemen

Khalid Saeed Batarfi

Khalid Saeed Batarfi was a senior leader with al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) before he was jailed by Yemeni officials.

Two days ago he was freed, along with 300 other inmates, as the terrorist group stormed the prison he was being held in, killing two guards.

Batarfi is among AQAP’s top regional commanders, known for his leading role in a 2011-2012 battle with government troops during which extremists seized large parts of the south and east of Yemen.

Pictures posted online today show the high-ranking terrorist grinning as he sits in the governor’s palace in the city of Mukalla, pretending to be on the telephone as he wields an assault rifle.

The militants stormed the Central Prison of Mukalla with machine guns and rocket launchers during a midnight raid on Thursday.

After taking over the prison and freeing a number of members of AQAP, the terrorists overran government buildings and the city’s port.

According to CBS, AQAP Twitter accounts tweeted after the prison raid: ‘All the brothers have been liberated, including Sheikh Batarfi who is now amongst his brothers, all praise to Allah.’

Mukalla was previously under control of forces loyal to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, however it is not clear what resistance to the terrorists remains after he fled the capital Sana’a to Saudi Arabia as rebels launched an attack on his palace.