US kills top al-Qaeda official during operation in Yemen
Qasim al-Raymi has been a member of al-Qaeda since the 1990s.
By TAMAR URIEL-BEERI
US President Donald Trump released a statement on Thursday night stating that it conducted a counterterrorism operation in Yemen during which it was able to assassinate al-Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) founder and leader Qassim al-Raymi, also known as Abu Hurairah al-Sana'ani.The attack which had killed the Raymi occurred in January. Trump had initially suggested that the US had carried out the attack in Yemen in a series of retweets on Saturday, according to the New York Post.According to Trump's statement, Raymi joined al-Qaeda in the 1990s and was the leader of AQAP. He was a US-designated terrorist, according to the Counter Terrorism Project (CTP). The AQAP leader before him, Nasir al-Wuhayshi, was killed in a US drone strike. Trump's statement did not clarify in what matter Raymi, who was the military leader of AQAP until taking over in Wuhayshi's place, died, though numerous reports suggest that it was also in a US drone strike.Raymi played a key role, according to CTP, in AQAP's "seizure of territory in Yemen's southern provinces.""Under [Raymi], AQAP committed unconscionable violence against civilians in Yemen and sought to conduct and inspire numerous attacks against the United States and our forces," Trump said in the statement. ""His death further degrades AQAP and the global al-Qa’ida 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," Trump's statement concluded. "We will continue to protect the American people by tracking down and eliminating terrorists who seek to do us harm."Raymi was one of 23 men who escaped during a 2006 prison break in Yemen and reportedly ran an al-Qaeda training camp in Abyan province.The United States regards AQAP as one of the deadliest branches of the al Qaeda network founded by Osama bin Laden. Saudi Arabia, which is directly threatened by AQAP, has also condemned the organization and Raymi in particular.AQAP is a militant Islamist group active in Yemen and Saudi Arabia and is regarding as the most active branch of al-Qaeda. The UN has previously designated AQAP as a terror organization, as well.Although the al-Qaeda branch was only formed in 2009, the terror organization's action in the region began long before that, including a 2000 bombing against a US Navy guided missile destroyer, the USS Cole. The attack killed 17 US sailors.During the ICT-IDC Herzliya counterterrorism conference, numerous top global counterterror experts warned that al-Qaeda is back on Monday. This may pose an escalating cyber-terrorism threat as the organization has reached a new high in followers.Omri Nahmias, Yonah Jeremy Bob contributed to this report.
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