Officials believe Al-Qaeda leader killed in USA airstrike


Donald Trump appeared on Saturday to confirm the death of Qassim al-Rimi, the leader of an al-Qaida affiliate in Yemen, through a series of tweets.

Asked about the report, the Pentagon would not elaborate on the situation.

A US official who was briefed on the strike told the Times that the Central Intelligence Agency learned of al-Rimi's whereabouts from an informer in Yemen in November and that the government used tracking drones to follow him.

The 41-year-old became head of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in 2015 following a drone strike that killed the group's then-leader, Nasir al-Wuhayshi.

Al-Rimi had threatened to attack American targets, and the United States government had offered $10 million in reward for information about him. Local media reports did not identify the people killed at the time.

AQAP has always been considered the global network's most unsafe branch and has attempted to carry out attacks on the US mainland. The message came days after a USA -led raid against AQAP killed 25 people, including 11 women and children. Special Operations Forces raid on an al-Qaeda compound in Yemen that led to the first USA military combat death during the Trump administration.

"The fool of the White House got slapped at the beginning of his road in your lands", al-Rimi said on a recording after the strike.

The CIA believes he was involved in the 2008 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Sana that killed 10 guards and four civilians.

In 2013, in a message "to the American nation", Rimi said: "Your security is not achieved by despoiling other nations' security or by attacking and oppressing them".

They were the first US airstrikes in Yemen since January 1, 2019 when the United States conducted two strikes, including one that killed Jamal al-Badawi, an al-Qaeda operative linked to the 2000 attack on the USS Cole.

Last year, the White House confirmed that USA forces killed a senior terror coordinator for al-Qaeda, Ibrahim al-Asiri, in a counterterrorist operation in Yemen.

In January past year, a USA strike killed Jamal al-Badawi, an al-Qaida operative linked to the 2000 attack on the USS Cole while it was being refuelled in Aden. This week, Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, said the U.S. was "alarmed" by a recent increase in violence in Yemen.

The U.S. efforts to combat al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula are separate from U.S. efforts to support the Saudi-led coalition fighting in the Yemen civil war.