Al-Shihri was once held by the United States at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. In November 2007 he was transferred to Saudi custody, and underwent a program designed to lead people away from terrorism.
But despite travel restrictions requiring him to stay in Saudi Arabia, he left for Yemen, where he joined another former Guantanamo detainee to assume leadership of AQAP, the U.S. House Armed Services Committee said in a document about detainees who resume terrorism.
The U.S. State Department notes that he was publicly identified in January 2009 as the deputy leader of AQAP.
"As deputy of AQAP, al-Shihri helps carry out terrorist acts by generating targets, recruiting new members, assisting with training and attack planning, and tasking others in the preparation of attacks," the State Department said.
White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan in April described AQAP as "very, very dangerous" and "the most active operational franchise" of al Qaeda.
In December 2009, Yemen said it thought al-Shihri was at the site of an aerial assault against senior al Qaeda operatives. But later reports said he had apparently escaped the attack.