But in the end it wasn't al-Qaida that killed Sheik Salem Ahmed bin Ali Jaber.
Al-Qaida fighters, who hide in mountain strongholds near the remote eastern village of Khashamir, did call him out, demanding he meet them one night – apparently to intimidate him into stopping his sermons against them.
Sheik Salem felt he had no choice but to meet them, but a cousin who was in the police insisted on accompanying him as protection, according to the cleric's brother-in-law, Faysal bin Ali bin Jaber, who recounted the events to The Associated Press.
"Once they arrived to the car where al-Qaida was, four missiles hit," Faysal said. At home in the village, he heard the blasts – and heard the U.S. drone that struck the cars. "We know the buzzing sound of the drones overhead," he said.
Yemeni security officials confirmed three militants, along with Sheik Salem and his cousin were killed in the strike last August and that it was carried out by an American drone.