Unclear If Key al-Qaeda Recruiter Was Even at Site
The embarrassing aftermath of the January 29 US raid in Yemen continues, with details on a raid which was initially presented as targeting “al-Qaeda headquarters” in Yemen, later revealed to be the house of a suspected collaborator, now said to have been an attempt to capture, or kill, key AQAP figure Qassim al-Rimi.
Officials privately say that Rimi, one of the most wanted men in the world by US reckoning, and a top AQAP recruiter, was hoped to be at the site. Whether he was or not remains unknown, but either way Rimi was since issued statements mocking the failed attack, which officials say appear authentic, so he survived.
The US has claimed 14 AQAP fighters were killed, many of them “female combatants.” Beyond that, dozens of civilians were killed in the fighting, 43 civilians according to locals, though the Pentagon’s own investigation isn’t finalized. Among the slain was an eight-year-old American girl.
That Rimi was the target was confirmed by several officials quoted in the press, though the Pentagon has yet to officially decide that’s part of the story, and spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis denied the claim, saying the military never had any expectation of getting Rimi in the raid.
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