Abu Hurayrah Qasim al Raymi,
The Yemeni government confirmed that Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s military commander was killed in an airstrike launched against the terror group on Jan. 15.
Abu Hurayrah Qasim al Raymi, the group’s military commander, was among six senior members of the terror group identified as being killed during an airstrike in the Al Ajasher region, a mountainous region between Saada and Jawf.
The government said it was certain that Raymi and al Qaeda leaders and operatives Aidh Jaber al Shabwani, Ammar Obada al Waili, Saleh al Tais, Abdullah Hadi al Tais, and Abu Ayman al Masri were killed in the strike that targeted two vehicles. Two other operatives, who have not been named, escaped, according to the Yemen Observer.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has not released a statement confirming or denying the deaths of Raymi and the other operatives.
Raymi was the leader of al Qaeda in Yemen before he yielded authority to Abu Nasir al Wuhayshi. Both Raymi and Wuhayshi were among 13 al Qaeda leaders and fighters who escaped from a Yemeni jail in 2006. In February 2009, Al Qaeda in Yemen merged with the Saudi branch and became Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Raymi was appointed the military commander of the group.
Shabwani was the leader of al Qaeda in the province of Marib. Abu Ayman al Masri was a master bomb-maker. He was said to have moved back and forth between Yemen and Afghanistan, where he directed suicide attacks against Afghan and Coalition forces.
The Jan 15 strike is the third since mid-December. The US used air-launched cruise missiles during the Dec. 17 strike that targeted al Qaeda camps in Sana’a and Abyan. The Yemeni government claimed it carried out the Dec. 24 airstrike that targeted Abu Nasir al Wuhayshi, his deputy Said al Shihri, Raymi, and radical US-born cleric Anwar al Awlaki.
US intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal would not comment on US involvement in the Dec. 24 and Jan. 15 strikes. The Yemeni government claims it carried out all three strikes, but the Yemeni Air Forces is not thought to have the capability to carry out precision attacks.
Al Qaeda is known to operate several training camps in Sana’a, Abyan, and Shabwa provinces, and has the support of several influential tribes in Yemen.
The US has sought the Yemeni government’s assistance in cracking down on Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula after two plots have been directly traced back to the terror group. The attempt to blow up an airliner over Detroit on Christmas Eve 2009 and the shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, that killed 13 US soldiers have been linked to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
For more on Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the terror group’s leaders, see:
A look at 10 of the most dangerous Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leaders:
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