The White House confirmed the killing of Qasim al-Raymi, the leader of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Ayman al-Zawahiri’s right-hand man. Donald Trump commented on this event stating that the elimination of al-Raymi is a message for AQAP and the international terrorism network and it is a step forward to the defeat of terrorism in the MENA region.
According to the White House official statement, a raid in Sanaa eliminated the 41-year-old Qasim al-Raymi who was responsible for several terrorist activities. Previously, al-Raymi had worked with Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. In 2015 he replaced Abu Basir Nasser al-Wuhaishi who was killed in a similar raid.
The US President Donald Trump stated that under al-Raymi’s leadership AQAP has committed inconceivable acts of violence against civilians in Yemen and tried to conduct many attacks against the United States and the American soldiers.
The ten million dollar bounty on his head was possibly the reason why a source contacted the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and revealed where al-Raymi was hiding. For several months the CIA controlled al-Raymi’s activities near the Yemeni capital Sanaa. On January 8th, 2020, under the direct order of the US President Donald Trump, the CIA killed Qasim al-Raymi with a drone bombing.
The elimination of the leader of AQAP represents a serious blow for al-Qaeda because al-Raymi was highly appreciated by the members of the terrorist group thanks for his long experience as a fighter. In fact, in the 90’s he was in Afghanistan, then he returned to Yemen where he was arrested for the attempted murder of the US ambassador. After he was released from prison he fought among the ranks of al-Qaeda against the Islamic State. In 2009, he organized the terrorist explosive attack on an American airliner over the Detroit skies. Fortunately, the martyr, the 23-year-old Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was unable to detonate the bomb that had been sewn in his underwear: the bomb ignited, causing him burns and burning part of his seat, but it did not explode.
Qassim al-Raymi’s elimination comes after two more executions of opponents of the United States. In October 2019 the United States killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed caliph of the Islamic State, while on January 3rd, 2020, a US raid killed Qasim Soleimani, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
Why al-Raymi’s elimination matters? The United States started an elimination campaign against high rank leaders of terrorist organizations or foreign Intelligence agencies which might have serious consequences on the stability of the MENA region. Although the US President Donald Trump affirmed that al-Raymi’s killing might consolidate the security of the United States and the American citizens, weakening the terrorist organization al-Qaeda might create a vacuum of power in the Arabian Peninsula which could be filled by the Islamic State or other unknown terrorist groups. Furthermore, al-Raymi’s execution might result in AQAP’s revenge campaign and a serious of violent attacks against US civilians and military forces.