Al-Qaeda militants in Yemen executed one of their own Thursday after accusing him of spying for the United States, a security official said.
The man was executed by firing squad and his body was displayed at a football stadium near Shehr in the southeastern Hadramawt province, an Al-Qaeda stronghold, the source said.
Yemen is the ancestral home of Osama bin Laden and the home base of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which Washington views as the global jihadist network’s most dangerous franchise.
When police arrived at the scene, the man was hanging with the Al-Qaeda black and white flag alongside a banner reading: “A US spy in the Arabian Peninsula,” the official said.
A statement was also found in which AQAP threatened to execute “any intruder who infiltrates among Muslims, places chips in their vehicles and their wedding convoys and gets them killed in return for a few dirhams,” according to the source.
“These spies are the striking force by which the crusader US enemy reaches us,” it added.
The American military flies drones over Yemen in support of Sanaa’s campaign against Al-Qaeda and has killed dozens of militants in a sharply intensified campaign in the past year.
A US drone strike in northern Yemen on Wednesday killed four suspected Al-Qaeda members, including one who had fought in Iraq.
The drone strikes have also killed several civilians, triggering criticism from rights groups.
The United Nations said 16 civilians were killed and at least 10 wounded when two separate wedding processions were targeted by drones in early December.
The victims had been mistakenly identified as members of Al-Qaeda, the UN quoted local security officials as saying at the time.
The United States says drones are an essential part of its counter-terrorism efforts, allowing it to target militants in lawless areas where local security forces cannot or will not apprehend them.