U.S. raid in Yemen targeted senior al-Qaeda leader Qasim al-Raymi
PUBLISHED Mon, February 06, 2017 - 7:53pm EST
Photo: Qasim al-Raymi
Qasim al-Raymi, the leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), was the target of last month's U.S. raid in Yemen, but the most-wanted terrorist wasn't found at the location, U.S. media reported on Monday. (more)
The operation took place in Yakla village in Yemen's Al Bayda province on January 29, when U.S. special forces carried out a ground raid against the alleged headquarters of AQAP, which is considered to be the most dangerous branch of al-Qaeda.
The operation, which was personally approved by U.S. President Donald Trump, had been described as "very successful" by the White House, but senior military officials told NBC News and CNN on Monday that the raid had failed to capture its intended target, Qasim al-Raymi.
It is unknown whether the al-Qaeda leader managed to escape or whether he happened to be somewhere else, but al-Raymi mentioned the raid in an audio tape released last Friday and addressed to the people of Yemen. "The fool of the White House got slapped at the beginning of his road in your lands," he said.
According to the Pentagon, an estimated 14 al-Qaeda militants were killed in the raid, as well as one U.S. Navy SEAL and an undisclosed number of civilians. Human rights group Reprieve reported last week that as many as 23 civilians had been killed, including a newborn baby and 10 other children.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has orchestrated a number of high-profile attacks over the past decade, including the January 2015 shooting attack against the Paris offices of French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people and injuring several others.
Abu al-Khayr al-Masri, the deputy leader of al-Qaeda and the son-in-law of the late Osama bin Laden, was killed in a U.S. drone strike in northwest Syria, the group announced on Thursday, ending days of speculation about his fate. (more) Read More
Al Qaeda's leaders were increasingly worried about spies as the U.S.-led war against them on ground, according to documents seized in the 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden's Pakistani hideout and reviewed by Reuters.
Key al-Qaeda figure Muhsin al-Fadhli, the leader of the so-called Khorasan Group which is made up of senior al-Qaeda members, has been killed in a U.S. airstrike in northwestern Syria, according to Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis. "His death will degrade and disrupt ongoing external operations of al-Qaeda against the United States and our allies and partners," Davis said. The Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) previously reported that U.S.-led forces carried out an airstrike targeting the Khorasan Group near the town of Sarmada in Idlib province on July 8, striking a tactical unit and destroying a vehicle. The U.S. State Department's Rewards for Justice program had issued a $7 million reward in 2012 for information leading to al-Fadhli. [statement attached]