On January 31st, 2023 a four door sedan exploded near a gas-refilling station in Wadi Ubaidah district in Marib province, Yemen. Local officials claimed that four men, allegedly linked to al-Qaeda were killed in the blast. U.S. officials claimed that a single Hellfire R9X likely destroyed the vehicle and killed all four men, with one of them being identified as Hassan al-Hadrami.
AP News claimed that the White House and the Pentagon issued an information blackout on the strike, shrouding the strike in even more secrecy. From their report:
“It has all the features of other CIA strikes we’ve seen in the past, but until there’s transparency, we can’t know for sure,” Airwars director Emily Tripp said.
Two local tribal leaders, speaking on condition of anonymity given the ongoing war and the presence of extremists in Marib, told the AP that those killed were AQAP members. Masked al-Qaida fighters surrounded the area after the strike, they said.
The leaders identified one of the dead as Hassan al-Hadrami. The Houthis, through the state-run SABA news agency they control, had identified al-Hadrami in 2021 as one of several “specialized” explosives experts in the al-Qaida branch. The extremists have been planting roadside explosives.”
However, confirmed al-Qaeda operatives in RocketChat channels took to the platform today to confirm that both senior members Hassan al-Hadrami and Mowahid al-Hadrami were killed in a U.S. airstrike at that location and time. While Hassan was previously identified as a senior bomb maker for AQAP in Yemen, there is no information yet on Mowahid. It is possible that AQAP has made this announcement now in order to conflict US messaging, or lack of it, over the strike. In October 2022, President Biden announced that U.S. drone strikes outside of active war zones would be prohibited except under his direction.