UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — The United States carried out a January airstrike that killed an al Qaeda leader in Yemen after months of tracking it down, according to current and former government officials.
Qassim al-Rimi, 41, was killed in the January attack, but officials had waited to confirm the information before making the public statement, the New York Times reports.
Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen, on the Arabian Peninsula, has been keen to attack the US and Europe. Confirming al-Rimi’s death meant a significant blow to the group.
In November, CIA personnel learned of al-Rimi’s whereabouts from an informant. The government then began using surveillance drones to track it down, according to a US official who was informed of the attack.
Local news in Yemen reports that two militant suspects were killed in the attack in the Wadi Abedah area of central Yemen, but did not identify who those persons were. Al-Rimi is a veteran of the Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan and his ‘footsteps from the terrorist lecturer in the era before the 9/11 attacks,” the NYT reports.
He then returned to Yemen and was sentenced to five years in prison for conspiring to assassinate the US ambassador there.
Al-Rimi fled prison after only one year and quickly rose to the rank of Al Qaeda.
A $ 5 million reward for any information leading to his capture was provided by the State Department. It later doubled to $ 10 million after al-Rimi was linked to numerous plots against the US.
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