The White House is confirming that al-Qaeda leader Qasim al-Rimi was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Yemen back in January. The killing of al-Rimi is the third killing of a significant terrorist by a U.S. operation in the past few months. ISIS founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed by a U.S. strike in October and Iranian General Qassem Soleimani was killed in January.
In a statement, the White House confirmed that Qasim al-Rimi was killed in a counterterrorism operation in Yemen alongside a deputy of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. Qasim al-Rimi was a founder and leader of the terrorist group known as Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
"Rimi joined al-Qa’ida in the 1990s, working in Afghanistan for Osama bin Laden," the statement reads. "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. 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. We will continue to protect the American people by tracking down and eliminating terrorists who seek to do us harm."
Reporting on the airstrike last week, The New York Times characterized the then-rumored death of al-Rimi as potentially "a significant blow to the Qaeda affiliate, which remains one of the most potent branches of the terrorist group." AQAP has previously tried to attack the United States, and it is believed the group was still interested in doing so. But, as the Times notes, the group's ability to launch attacks has atrophied in recent years thanks to American airstrikes like the one that just took out the group's leader.