Terror leader targeted in Yemen raid survives, taunts U.S. in recording

U.S. military officials say one of the major goals of the Jan. 29 raid on an al-Qaeda compound in Yemen was to capture Qassim al-Rimi, the leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which is considered by many experts to be the most dangerous of the militant organization's branches. Pictured are pro-Yemeni fighters who have fought against AQAP, which has plagued Yemen for several years and taken over several regions of the country. Photo by EPA

Feb. 7 (UPI) — A raid in Yemen in late January by the U.S. Navy SEALs in Yemen was aimed at capturing a high-level al-Qaeda commander who survived and taunted U.S. President Donald Trump in a recording released this past weekend.

Qassim al-Rimi, commander of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, was the main target of a large operation by the U.S. military in Yemen on Jan. 29, military commanders told NBC News on Monday, and he either escaped the compound raided by Navy SEALs or was never there.

While the Pentagon touted intelligence gathered during the operation — which included the death of a SEAL, injury of several others, death and injury of dozens of militants and civilians and loss of a military vehicle — a video of alleged members of al-Qaeda training collected during the raid and released to the media turned out to be a decade old, as did other pieces of intelligence.

On Sunday, an audio recording of al-Rimi mocking Trump and the Jan. 29 raid he survived was released by the terror group, with the U.S. military saying that it appears to be authentic.

“The fool of the White House got slapped at the beginning of his road in your lands,” al-Rimi said on the recording, referring to the outcome of the first military mission Trump has acknowledged approving since his inauguration on Jan. 20.

Col. John Thomas of the U.S. Central Command said al-Rimi was not the main objective of the raid, telling CNN the Jan. 29 operation “wasn’t a high-value target mission” and that any high-ranking al-Qaeda leader would have been taken by the SEALs.

The military didn’t have intelligence suggesting a “high possibility” al-Rimi was at the compound, which is why the mission was mostly aimed at gathering intelligence — with the hope it would lead to the terrorist leader.

Considered by the U.S. military to be the third most dangerous terrorist in the world, al-Rimi has been running al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, considered the most dangerous of the organization’s branches, since 2015 when its former leader was killed in a drone strike.


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