A U.S. official told CNN on Friday that the United States conducted a strike that targeted Qassim al-Rimi. Rimi is the leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the terror group’s franchise based in Yemen. The group has repeatedly expressed interest in conducting attacks targeting the U.S. The Pentagon would not give details on the situation when asked about the report. A defense official said, “While we are aware of the reports alleging the death of AQAP leader Qassim al-Rimi, the Department of Defense has nothing to offer on this matter.”
There is a $10 million reward offered by the U.S. government’s Rewards for Justice program for anyone that has information on the al Qaeda leader. Since it’s formation in 2009, many observers have considered AQAP to be the most dangerous branch of al Qaeda. After the drone strike in 2015 that killed Nasir al-Wuhayshi, Rimi reportedly became the branch’s leader. Days after a 2017 U.S. Special Operations Forces raid on an al Qaeda compound in Yemen, Rimi released an audio message taunting U.S. President Donald Trump, commenting that “the White House received a painful slap in the face.” The U.S. carried out a series of six airstrikes in Yemen last April that targeted Rimi. The U.S. is also trying to prevent al Qaeda from exploiting the chaos of Yemen’s civil war to establish a safe haven.