Washington- U.S. military and intelligence officials said on Monday that the capture of Qassem al-Rimi, head of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, was the main objective of the raid launched by the U.S. elite forces in Yemen on Jan. 29, the first military operation authorized by U.S. President Donald Trump after assuming power last month.
NBC News reported on Tuesday that Rimi also known by the nom de guerre of Abu Hrira al-Sanaani is considered the third most dangerous terrorist in the world and a master recruiter.
The news outlet said: “It was not clear whether Rimi was at the al-Qaeda camp but escaped when SEAL Team 6 and United Arab Emirates commandos descended, whether he happened to be elsewhere, or whether he was even tipped off.”
Half a dozen Yemeni soldiers and a dozen commandos from the United Arab Emirates who had developed the intelligence leading to the target were also involved, and a Marine Corps Quick Reaction Force was waiting offshore, multiple officials told NBC News.
Last week, Rimi released an audio recording in which he described Trump as “the fool of the White House,” and confirmed that the recent U.S. raid against the group killed 14 al-Qaeda members.
The audio recording is considered a proof that the al-Qaeda leader in Yemen is still alive.
It is probable that reports about the presence of Rimi in the targeted location had been misleading because other people are also referred to as al-Sanaani.
The capture or killing of Abu Hrira would have been considered a great victory for the Trump administration.
The presence of a person carrying the same title and hosted in the houses of Al Zhahab in the area was the main cause for sending inaccurate information to the Yemeni or U.S. intelligence about the presence of Abu Hrira in the targeted location.