The alleged promotion of AQAP's founding leader, Nassir al-Wuhayshi, to general manager of global Al Qaeda operations—roughly the equivalent of consigliere to Osama bin Laden's successor, Ayman Zawahari—may have been linked to the Aug. 2 threat alert. As a result of the leadership shake-up, command of Yemen's franchise has devolved to AQAP's notorious Saudi bomb-maker, Ibrahim al-Asiri, who, like Shihri last November, reportedly survived an Aug. 10 UAV strike in southern Lahj province that killed two others, though U.S. officials have yet to definitively confirm or deny those reports.
In the meantime, according to the Yemeni official, Hadi is willing and able to sustain heavy UAV strikes. “Tier 2 [militants] are freaking out,” the official says. “AQAP wants revenge.”