President Donald Trump appears to have added another name to the list of terrorists that his administration has killed as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reportedly launched a drone strike that killed the leader of Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen.
“The officials expressed confidence that the Qaeda leader, Qassim al-Rimi, was killed in a January airstrike in Yemen but were awaiting confirmation before making a public announcement,” The New York Times reported. “If confirmed, his death could represent a significant blow to the Qaeda affiliate, which remains one of the most potent branches of the terrorist group. The Yemen branch, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, has tried to attack the United States and Europe and is thought to still want to.”
The Times reported the CIA learned about al-Rimi’s location in November from an informant in Yemen and then started to track him using drones and other technology.
Thomas Joscelyn, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the Times: “He was an Al Qaeda veteran whose career started in the camps in pre-9/11 Afghanistan. After he was busted out of prison, he was part of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s relaunch management team, becoming their military commander.”
The news comes after a Trump-authorized drone strike killed Iranian terrorist leader Qassem Soleimani, Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF), in early January.
In October, Trump authorized a raid targeting ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Syria which resulted in al-Baghdadi’s death when he detonated a suicide vest as he was running from U.S. forces.
The day after al-Baghdadi was killed, U.S. forces conducted another attack that resulted in the death of al-Baghdadi’s likely successor, Abu Hassan al-Muhajir, when an airstrike took him out as he was being “smuggled across northern Syria in the back of an oil tanker truck,” the Times reported.
Another terrorist that the Trump administration took care of was Osama bin Laden’s son, Hamza bin Laden, who had repeatedly threatened to attack the U.S. and who was believed to be in line to taking over Al Qaeda.
“Details of the strike that killed him were scarce, including when and where,” The Times reported. “The United States government played a role in the operation, but it was not clear how, according to the officials, who discussed his death on the condition of anonymity because it involved sensitive operations and intelligence gathering. Mr. bin Laden was killed sometime during the first two years of the Trump administration, officials said.”
Not quite making the list was Abdul Reza Shahlai, an official with Iran’s Quds Force, who the Trump administration attempted to take out with a drone strike on the same day that they took out Soleimani.
“The disclosure of a second mission indicated that the Trump administration was attempting to target a larger set of Iranian military and paramilitary leaders than was previously known,” The New York Times reported. “The unsuccessful airstrike in Yemen was aimed at Abdul Reza Shahlai, an official with Iran’s Quds Force, a potent paramilitary organization. He was known as a key financier for Iran’s proxy wars.”
The Washington Post reported that the details surrounding the plan remained “highly classified” and suggested that Shahlai could be re-targeted again in the future.
“Another senior official said the two strikes were authorized around the same time and that the United States did not disclose the Shahlai mission because it did not go according to plan,” the Post reported. “The official said Shahlai may be targeted in the future, though both countries have signaled an interest in de-escalating the crisis.”
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