President Donald Trump confirmed on Thursday the death of Qassim al-Rimi, the leader of the al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), in a US counter-terrorism operation in Yemen.
“Under Rimi, 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 a statement.
“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 president said.
He did not say when Rimi was killed.
The United States regards AQAP as one of the deadliest branches of the al-Qaeda network.
Reports in Yemen have suggested in recent days that Rimi had been killed in a drone strike in Marib. Reuters was unable to verify the reports.
A veteran of al-Qaeda’s training camps in Afghanistan, Rimi later returned to his native Yemen, where he was sentenced to five years in prison for plotting to kill the American ambassador there. He broke out of jail a year later, and quickly rose through the ranks of the Qaeda affiliate.
The State Department offered a $5 million bounty for information leading to his capture, and later doubled the reward to $10 million, as he was linked to numerous plots against American interests.