Trump confirms killing of al-Qaeda leader in Yemen

Trump confirms killing of al-Qaeda leader in Yemen
2 min read
07 February, 2020
Qassim al-Rimi, the leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, has been confirmed dead by US President Donald Trump.
Qassim al-Rimi has been confirmed dead [Getty]
President Donald Trump said Thursday that the US at his direction has conducted a counter-terrorism operation in Yemen that killed Qassim al-Rimi, an al-Qaeda leader who claimed responsibility for last year's deadly shooting at the Naval Air Station Pensacola where a Saudi aviation trainee killed three American sailors.

Al-Rimi is a founder of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The affiliate has long been considered the global network's most dangerous branch for its attempts to carry out attacks on the US mainland. Trump said the US and its allies are safer as a result of his death.

“We will continue to protect the American people by tracking down and eliminating terrorists who seek to do us harm," Trump said.

While Trump confirmed reports that al-Rimi had been killed, he did not say when the US operation was conducted or offer any details about how it was carried out.

Al-Rimi had said in an 18-minute video that his group was responsible for the Dec. 6 shooting at the base. He called the shooter, Saudi Air Force officer Mohammed Alshamrani, a “courageous knight” and a “hero.” 

The shooter opened fire inside a classroom at the base, killing three people and wounding two sheriff’s deputies before one of the deputies killed him. Eight others were also hurt.

The shooting focused public attention on the presence of foreign students in American military training programs and exposed shortcomings in the screening of cadets.

In January, the US sent home 21 Saudi military students, saying the trainees had militant or anti-American sentiments on social media pages or had “contact with child pornography,” including in internet chat rooms.

Trump's announcement confirmed earlier indications that al-Rimi had been killed. In late January, a suspected US drone strike destroyed a building housing al-Qaeda militants in eastern Yemen.

Also, on Feburary 1, Trump retweeted several other tweets and media reports that seemed to offer confirmation that the strike had killed al-Rimi.

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