The U.S. has confirmed they had killed Qasim al-Raymi, the leader of al Qaeda’s Yemen branch, who was also a deputy to al Qaeda global leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.
U.S. President Donald Trump gave no details about the counterterrorism operation that killed Qasim al-Raymi, emir, or leader, of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which U.S. counterterrorism officials count among the terrorist group’s most potent affiliates.
Under Raymi, the group “committed unconscionable violence against civilians in Yemen and sought to conduct and inspire numerous attacks against the United States and our forces,” Mr Trump said in a statement. “His death further degrades AQAP and the global al-Qa’ida movement, and it brings us closer to eliminating the threats these groups pose to our national security.”
It was however gathered last week that the U.S. had launched a drone strike to kill Raymi, although it wasn’t clear at the time the operation had been successful.
The drone strike wasn’t conducted by the U.S. military, people familiar with the matter said, suggesting it was carried out by the CIA. The CIA declined to comment. Local media reported a U.S. drone strike had occurred on Jan. 25 in Yemen’s Marib province. The State Department has offered a $10 million reward for information that would help bring Raymi to justice.
Raymi trained militants in Afghanistan in the 1990s and later returned to Yemen, where he was imprisoned, according to the State Department and terrorism analysts. He escaped in 2006 and was a key figure in rebuilding AQAP over the next three years, said Thomas Joscelyn, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank.