The White House has confirmed that AQAP’s leader, Qasim al-Rimi, was killed in a counterterrorism operation. Rimi served as a “deputy” to Ayman al-Zawahiri, meaning that he was likely part of al-Qaeda’s global management team.
The claim has not been confirmed elsewhere, nor has JNIM commented on the event, but the French military has claimed a recent operation killed JNIM co-founder Yahya Abu al Hammam.
The suicide bombings show the Turkistan Islamic Party’s close battlefield integration with al Qaeda’s forces in Syria, as well as further highlighting its position within the overall al Qaeda network.
The US has killed or captured approximately 250 al Qaeda and al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent leaders and members in Afghanistan in 2016. US officials have downplayed the extent of al Qaeda’s presence in the country for years. After the raids this year, US intelligence should prepare a fresh assessment.