Tags: Al-Qaida | Trump Administration | yemen

US Killed Al-Qaida in Arab Peninsula's Leader in Yemen: Trump

US Killed Al-Qaida in Arab Peninsula's Leader in Yemen: Trump
Wanted posters for Qassem al-Rimi dating back several years. (AFP via Getty Images)

Thursday, 06 February 2020 08:52 PM

President Donald Trump said on Thursday the United States had killed Qassem al-Rimi, the leader of Islamist group Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), in a counterterrorism operation in Yemen.

"Under Rimi, AQAP committed unconscionable violence against civilians in Yemen and sought to conduct and inspire numerous attacks against the United States and our forces," 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," the president said.

He did not say when al-Rimi was killed.

The United States regards AQAP as one of the deadliest branches of the al-Qaida network founded by Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks.

The president’s statement said that al-Rimi had joined the original al-Qaida in Afghanistan in the 1990s when it was led by bin Laden. American intelligence officials said in 2015 that al-Rimi took over al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula after the death of his predecessor, Nasir al-Wahishi, who was reportedly killed by a U.S. drone strike. al-Rimi played a key role in recruiting the current generation of AQAP militants, according to the State Department.

Reports in Yemen have suggested in recent days that Rimi had been killed in a drone strike in Marib. Reuters was unable to verify the reports.

One Yemeni government official told Reuters there had been a drone strike in Marib but it was not Rimi who had been killed.

The New York Times first reported last week that the U.S. had conducted an airstrike and had possibly killed al-Rimi.

Al-Rimi is the third significant terrorist killed in a U.S. operation in recent months.

The U.S. took out Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in late October, as reported by Newsmax. And in early January it conducted a strike that killed top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

For the past four years, Yemen has been engulfed in a devastating civil war that has brought the already-poor nation to the brink of famine, with tens of thousands of people killed and millions more displaced. said Bloomberg News.

The conflict became part of the broader struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran for supremacy in the region. A Saudi-led coalition began a military campaign against Houthi rebels, who are supported by Iran. Human rights groups have documented many instances of coalition bombings of hospitals, schools and other civilian targets.

In the chaos of the war, AQAP expanded its activities in Yemen, and at one point seized control of the province of Abyan.

Bloomberg News contributed to this report.

In another drone strike last month, the U.S. killed Qassem Soleimani, considered the most powerful general in Iran.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

© 2020 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

   
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President Donald Trump said on Thursday the United States had killed Qassem al-Rimi, the leader of Islamist group Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), in a counterterrorism operation in Yemen."Under Rimi, AQAP committed unconscionable violence against civilians in...
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2020-52-06
Thursday, 06 February 2020 08:52 PM
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