UN report shows Al Qaeda leader Khalid Batarfi in custody as the terror group’s ranks diminish

Al Qaeda leader Khalid Batarfi has been in custody since October, according to a UN report. The terror group has seen an erosion in its ranks since the arrest.

Batarfi is the leader of Al Qaeda’s Yemen branch (AQAP) and has been rumored to be in custody for some time. The UN report makes this rumor official. Since the arrest of Batarfi, Al Qaeda has seen an erosion in its ranks from dissension and desertions primarily led by one of Batarfi’s ex-lieutenants. Al Qaeda, which promotes the idea of “Martyrdom” to its followers, has seen this arrest as a propaganda embarrassment, according to NBC News.

In his inaugural address as AQAP leader in March, Batarfi stated that “as per our methodology, the martyrdom of leaders is proof of its truthfulness, and it is a badge of honor adorned by these leaders.” This arrest could possibly provide the US efforts to counter terrorism some valuable information. According to the UN report, the same operation in Ghayda City that led to the Arrest of Batarfi also led to the death of the group’s second in command Saad Atef al-Awlaqi.

Batarfi became the leader of AQAP in 2020 after his predecessor was killed in a US airstrike. He had trained with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan after the 9/11 terror attacks and later joined Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen. According to the UN, Batarfi became a key ideologue for the group and helped oversee its external operations before he became leader. There is nothing in the UN report on where Batarfi is being held. According to the report, Al Qaeda’s internal leadership had been facing setbacks for several months.




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