It deemed him as posing a high risk to the U.S. its interests and allies, a medium threat as a Guantánamo detainee whom had been assessed has having high intelligence value, meaning interrogators believed there was more they could learn from him about al Qaida.
But this was a period when the Bush administration was repatriating the vast majority of Saudis held at Guantánamo as part of a rehabiliation plan.
Shihris death would make him the highest-ranked figure in al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula to have been killed since the group formed. The Yemeni governments announcement comes, however, in the midst of an uptick in the intensity of its battle against the terrorist organization.
The past week has seen nearly daily reports of suspected American airstrikes against terrorist targets in four Yemeni provinces, drawing increased attention to the controversial practice. Many Yemenis see the strikes as a breach of the countrys sovereignty and a violation of the rule of law.
Simultaneously, the Yemeni military has mobilized in preparation for a possible offensive against militants linked to Shihris group who currently are based in the central province of al-Beidah.
With militants able to find refuge and al-Wuhayshi and other key terrorist figures still at large, Shihris death by no means would render a fatal blow. Still, analysts said, the death of the groups deputy leader would mark one of the most significant setbacks it has suffered in years.
He has been a driving force in the organization and was a key player in developing the 2009 bomb attempt that targeted Mohammed bin Nayef, and which eventually morphed into the 2009 underwear plot on Christmas Day, Johnsen said. He is also the most visible of the Saudi members of the organization, which is important both for fundraising in the Gulf as well as giving AQAP a regional and international focus.
Miami Herald correspondent Carol Rosenberg contributed to this report from Miami.