Al-Qaeda in Yemen has identified the suicide bomber behind last week’s deadly attack on troops that killed nearly 100 soldiers, according to a statement posted online.
A picture of Haitham Hamid Hussein Moufarrah dressed in traditional Yemeni garb was posted on a jihadist website late Saturday.
A statement by Yemen-based Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) also described the May 21 bombing in Sana’a as a “commendable operation that was overseen by the emirs and the military command of the network.”
A police official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP that Moufarrah was “a soldier who infiltrated Yemen’s Central Security forces, a unit of the army where he served,” adding that the bomber's father was arrested Saturday “for questioning.”
Another police official said the bomber “was part of an Qaeda sleeper cell in Sana’a which acted to reduce pressure on the network in the southern province of Abyan,” where the army is battling militants for control of the restive territory.
He said Yemen’s “army and security units have been infiltrated by some 300 Qaeda operatives.”
On May 21, the suicide bomber, packing powerful explosives under his uniform, blew himself up in the middle of dozens of troops rehearsing for an army parade to mark the 22nd anniversary of the unification of north and south Yemen, killing 96 soldiers and wounding at least 300 others.
The attack was the deadliest against Yemeni troops in Sana’a since newly-elected President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi vowed to destroy the militant network at his swearing in ceremony last February.
It also came 10 days into a massive army offensive launched on May 12 against Qaeda in Abyan that so far has left 332 people dead, according to a tally compiled by AFP, including 242 Qaeda fighters, 55 military personnel, 18 local militiamen and 17 civilians.