CNN BREAKING NEWS
Yemen Explosion Leaves Top Al Qaeda Leader Dead
Aired November 4, 2002 - 15:35 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: And we have some breaking news now we want to tell you about. A car explosion in Yemen that has left a top al Qaeda leader dead. For the latest, let's go to my colleague, David Ensor, National Security Correspondent in Washington -- David.
DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, a knowledgeable source tells CNN that the reason that the car exploded is that it was hit by a U.S. missile. That missile attack came early this morning and it hit a car that contained six individuals, including a man that U.S. officials say was the leader of al Qaeda in Yemen, Abu Ali Alharifi (ph), otherwise known as Kahid Sinon Alharifi (ph).
He is thought to have been a former senior bodyguard of Osama bin Laden. Thought to be -- to have been the leader of al Qaeda in Yemen at that time. And needless to say, some parts of the U.S. government are celebrating today. This is a major victory to take out one of the top 15 leaders of al Qaeda. That done, as I say, according to knowledgeable sources, by a U.S. missile.
Now, I should stress that Pentagon and U.S. intelligence sources are flatly refusing to discuss this report and are not sources directly for this report. But knowledgeable sources tell us that a U.S. missile fired against the car in Yemen was the cause of that explosion, and the cause of the death of one of the top leaders of al Qaeda, worldwide -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: David, how much of a U.S. presence is there right now in Yemen?
ENSOR: There's a fair number of U.S. officials. They operate rather discreetly. And they keep a low profile, but there are delegations going in and out. There's been a certain amount of assistance of various kinds. Military and intelligence assistance of various kinds for the Yemenis, who have been trying to clean up their act, so to speak. To go after some of the tribal areas where al Qaeda sympathizers are thought to reside.
I should mention also that Secretary Rumsfeld was asked about this Abu Ali Alharifi (ph) and if he is indeed dead, what does that mean? Here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Needless to say, he has been an individual that has been sought after as an al Qaeda member, as well as a suspected terrorist connected to the USS Cole. So it would be a very good thing if he were out of business.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ENSOR: And so, as I say, Judy, there are people in the U.S. government who are quietly pleased about this development. Back to you.
WOODRUFF: All right. David Ensor, and, of course, if there are further developments, we will come back to you. Thank you, David.
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