The US President,Mr. Donald Trump, has confirmed that in a major counter-terrorism operation in Yemen the US forces have killed Qasim al-Rimi, a founder and leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the jihadist group that claimed responsibility for a mass shooting at an American naval base.
Rimi, 46, a deputy to al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, was placed on the US’ most-wanted terrorist list after taking over al-Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate in 2015.
The US government had offered a 10 million dollars reward for information on Rimi.
'His death further degrades al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the global al-Qaeda movement, and it brings us closer to eliminating the threats these groups pose to our national security,' Mr. Trump said on Thursday.
He said the major counter-terrorism operation was carried at his direction.
'Rimi joined al-Qaeda in the 1990s, working in Afghanistan for Osama bin Laden. Under Rimi, AQAP committed unconscionable violence against civilians in Yemen and sought to conduct and inspire numerous attacks against the US and our forces,' Mr. Trump said.
'The US, our interests, and our 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,' he said.
While Mr. Trump confirmed that Rimi had been killed, he did not say when the US operation was conducted or divulged any details about how it was carried out.
The AQAP has long been considered al-Qaeda’s most dangerous branch for its attempts to carry out attacks on the US mainland.
Rimi had said in an 18-minute video that his group was responsible for the December 6 shooting at US Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida, in which a Saudi Air Force officer killed three American sailors.