The US in an intelligence-based operation has killed an Al-Qaeda big gun in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), President Donald Trump announced.
Qasim al-Raymi, who was in charge of Jihadist group’s Middle East branch since 2015 was killed in a successful operation in Yemen, according to White House officials. Al-Raymi was linked to a number of attacks on western interests in 2000s. He took reins of the group following the killing of his predecessor in a US drone strike. AQAB was established in 2009 by the merger of two regional Al-Qaeda offshoots is Yemen and Saudi Arabia, with the aim of toppling US-backed regimes in the Middle East.
Rumors of his death surfaced earlier in late January. AQAP on Feb 2, 2020 responded with an audio message playing Raymi’s voice in which he claimed the responsibility of Dec 2019 shootings at a US naval base in Pensacola, Florida.
The audio recording may have preceded the shootings executed in December. Confirming the elimination of Raymi, White House statement read:
“His death further degrades AQAP and the global al-Qaeda movement, and it brings us closer to eliminating the threats these groups pose to our national security. The United States, our interests, and our allies are safer as a result of his death.”
Raymi who previously worked as a trainer at an al-Qaeda camp in Afghanistan in the 1990s, returned to Yemen in 2004 where he served a 5-year imprisonment for being involved in a plot to attack five foreign embassies in the capital. Determined to eliminate Western and American influence in the Middle East, Raymi is believed to have overseen the formation of al-Qaeda in Yemen. United States intelligence officials have once described the AQAP chapter of the insurgents as the most active operational franchise of al-Qaeda outside Afghanistan and Pakistan. The group is believed to have carried most of its attacks inside Yemen while taking advantage of persistent political unrest.
The terrorist recognized as the mastermind of attacks in Yemen and Saudi Arabia and responsible of killings of hundreds was also known as the chief architect planning airline bombing plots narrowly foiled by United States.