WASHINGTON -- Dozens of al Qaeda terrorist suspects have been killed in two days of American airstrikes in Yemen. That's significant because the most sophisticated bomb plots targeting the U.S. in recent years have come from the al Qaeda cell in the Arabian Peninsula.
Sources say the multiple strikes were aimed at disrupting al Qaeda's plans to attack civilian and military facilities inside Yemen.
The joint operations, involving Yemeni troops backed by U.S. drones, targeted suspected al Qaeda fighters as they gathered for training. Yemeni officials say airstrikes killed about two dozen militants in one terrorist camp. Ten others died when their car was destroyed by missiles.
Sources say Yemeni commandos, dropped into the attack zone by American helicopters, retrieved some of the militants' bodies to try to identify them. While local reports have suggested top operatives were killed, U.S. officials have no evidence yet that senior al Qaeda leaders are among the dead.
The raids were carried out in Yemen's mountainous south -- the same region where al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula recently staged a propaganda rally.
The video of the meeting, posted on jihadi websites, revealed about 100 heavily armed members of AQAP embracing their leader Nasir al-Wuhayshi. On the tape, Wuhayshi, who is now al Qaeda's second most powerful figure, renewed his pledge to strike America.
Wuhayshi's group has already tried to attack the U.S. with bombs hidden in underwear and computer printers.
Sources say the weekend strikes were not a direct response to the video and did not specifically target Wuhayshi, but U.S. officials clearly want to eliminate him and AQAP's master bomb builder.