February 7, 2017 10:27:00 am
A US raid in Yemen last week missed its primary target — an Al Qaeda leader considered the third most dangerous terrorist in the world — who survived and is now taunting President Donald Trump in an audio message, according to a news report. Military and intelligence officials told NBC News on Monday that the goal of the massive operation was to capture or kill Qassim al-Rimi.
WATCH VIDEO | US President Donald Trump Faces Uphill Task To Overcome Temporary Hold On Travel Ban
But while one US service member — Chief Petty Officer William Owens, a Navy SEAL (sea, air, and land), 14 Al Qaeda militants and some civilians, including an eight-year-old girl, were killed during a firefight, al-Rimi is still alive and in Yemen. On Sunday, al-Rimi, who landed on the US’ most-wanted terrorist list after taking over Al Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate in 2015, released an audio recording that military sources said was authentic.
“The fool of the White House got slapped at the beginning of his road in your lands,” he said in an apparent reference to the January 29 raid. According to the officials, it was not clear whether al-Rimi was at the Al Qaeda camp but escaped when SEAL Team 6 and United Arab Emirates (UAE) commandos descended, whether he happened to be elsewhere, or whether he was even tipped off. Military officials told NBC News that it was the prospect of taking out al-Rimi that convinced the US chain of command that the mission was worth the risk.
The so-called “package” for the mission was larger than any counter-terrorism strike since the 2011 killing of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden: two dozen SEALs, backed up by 30 to 40 other Americans on the ground and in the air. A half-dozen Yemeni soldiers and a dozen UAE commandos who had developed the intelligence leading to the target were also involved, and a Marine Corps Quick Reaction Force was waiting offshore, the officials said.
A senior US intelligence official told NBC News that “almost everything went wrong” once the raid got underway. Occupants of the targeted house were alerted by something – possibly a barking dog, a drone crash or walkie-talkie chatter. The raiding force on the ground came under fire, and fighting erupted around houses where women and children were staying, with some armed women firing on the US and UAE forces, the official added.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.