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Airstrike kills al-Qaida leader in Yemen

SAN'A, Yemen -- An airstrike Sunday killed a top al-Qaida leader on the FBI's most wanted list for his role in the 2000 bombing of the warship USS Cole, Yemeni officials said. The drone attack was carried out by the CIA, U.S. officials said.

Fahd al-Quso was hit by a missile as he stepped out of his vehicle along with another al-Qaida operative in southern Shabwa province, Yemeni military officials said.

The drone strike was carried out by the CIA, after an extended surveillance operation by the CIA and the U.S. military, two U.S. officials said.

The strike was authorized by the Yemeni government, which then made the announcement after the operation, the officials said, part of the U.S. strategy to give the host government more public ownership of an operation carried out on its soil.

The airstrike came as the United States and Yemen cooperate in a battle against al-Qaida in southern Yemen.

The FBI's most wanted list offered a $5 million reward for information leading to the capture of al-Quso, 37. He was indicted in the United States for his role in the bombing of the Cole in the harbor of Aden, Yemen, in which 17 American sailors were killed and 39 injured.

He served more than 5 years in a Yemeni prison for his role in the attack and was released in 2007. He briefly escaped in 2003 but turned himself in later to serve the rest of the sentence.

Al-Quso also was one of the most senior al-Qaida leaders publicly linked to the attempted Christmas 2009 airliner attack.

Meanwhile, al-Qaida has released a video of American hostage Warren Weinstein, 70, in which the humanitarian aid worker says he will be killed unless President Barack Obama agrees to the group's demands. The SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors militant messages, says the video was posted on jihadist forums yesterday.

In the video, Weinstein says he hopes to resume spending time with his two daughters and encourages Obama to act quickly, saying any delay "will just make things more difficult." After the August kidnapping in Pakistan, al-Qaida's Ayman al-Zawahri said Weinstein would be released if the United States stopped airstrikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.

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