WASHINGTON (AFP) – President Donald Trump confirmed Thursday that the US had killed the leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula — days after the militant group claimed responsibility for a mass shooting at a US naval base.
The US “conducted a counterterrorism operation in Yemen that successfully eliminated Qassim al-Rimi, a founder and the leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP),” Trump said in a White House statement.
AQAP claimed responsibility on Sunday for a December 6 shooting at US Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida, in which a Saudi Air Force officer killed three American sailors.
The Sunni extremist group has thrived in the chaos of years of civil war between Yemen s Saudi-backed government and Shiite rebels who control the capital.
“Under Rimi, AQAP committed unconscionable violence against civilians in Yemen and sought to conduct and inspire numerous attacks against the United States and our forces,” Trump said.
“His death further degrades AQAP and the global al-Qaeda movement, and it brings us closer to eliminating the threats these groups pose to our national security.”
Trump did not give any details about the circumstances or the timing of the operation.
In the Pensacola attack, eight people were wounded, including two responding sheriff s deputies, before police shot dead the assailant.