Yemen’s al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has appointed Qassim al-Raymi as their new military commander, replacing former commander Nasser al-Wuhayshi, who was killed last month in a US drone strike.
Raymi has delivered his first speech since taking command, an audio recording in which he pledged loyalty to al-Qaeda’s parent organization and Ayman al-Zawahri, and called for attacks against the US in retaliation for Wuhayshi’s death.
The US has launched multiple strikes against the south Yemen port of Mukalla, the largest city AQAP holds. It was in one of these strikes that Wuhayshi was killed, a feat Western officials have trumpeted as a big victory over AQAP.
Ultimately, it may prove to just be the latest in a long series of successions in AQAP leadership positions, and another pretext for AQAP to want to hit the US in retaliatory strikes, something which grows as the number of drone strikes do.
Raymi also addressed Syria, unusual for AQAP officials, praising al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra for its takeover of the Idlib Province, and cheering the Afghan Taliban for their spring offensive.