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Qassim al-Rimi: US forces killed al-Qaida leader in Yemen, Trump confirms | US news


Donald Trump said on Thursday that the US at his direction conducted a counter-terrorism operation in Yemen that killed Qassim al-Rimi, an al-Qaida leader who claimed responsibility for last year’s deadly shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola, where a Saudi aviation trainee killed three American sailors.

Al-Rimi was a founder of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. The affiliate has long been considered the global network’s most dangerous branch for its attempts to carry out attacks on the US mainland. Trump said the US and its allies are safer as a result of his death.

“We will continue to protect the American people by tracking down and eliminating terrorists who seek to do us harm,“ Trump said.

While Trump confirmed reports that al-Rimi had been killed, he did not say when the US operation was conducted or offer any details about how it was carried out.

Al-Rimi had said in an 18-minute video that his group was responsible for the 6 December shooting at the base. He called the shooter, the Saudi air force officer Mohammed Alshamrani, a “courageous knight” and a “hero”. The shooter opened fire inside a classroom at the base, killing three people and wounding two sheriff’s deputies before one of the deputies killed him. Eight others were also hurt.

The shooting focused public attention on the presence of foreign students in American military training programs and exposed shortcomings in the screening of cadets. In January, the US sent home 21 Saudi military students, saying the trainees had jihadist or anti-American sentiments on social media pages or had “contact” with child abuse images, including in internet chatrooms.

Trump’s announcement confirmed earlier indications that al-Rimi had been killed. In late January, a suspected US drone strike destroyed a building housing al-Qaida militants in eastern Yemen. Also, on 1 February, Trump retweeted several other tweets and media reports that seemed to offer confirmation that the strike had killed al-Rimi.

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