U.S. Navy SEALs failed to kill al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula leader Qassim al-Rimi in a late-night on Jan. 28 raid in Yemen, NBC News reports.
Al-Rimi is a former lieutenant of deceased al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, who trained with the terrorist group in Afghanistan in the late 1990s before returning to Yemen. After surviving the raid, he quickly released an audio recording mocking President Donald Trump as “the fool in the White House.”
Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula is one of the most dangerous affiliates of the terrorist network, and has repeatedly tried to launch complex plots on the U.S. homeland.
The prospect of killing or capturing al-Rimi reportedly convinced the Pentagon the raid was worth the risk.
Previous White House and Pentagon statements indicated the primary purpose of the raid was intelligence gathering. A U.S. Central Command spokesman reiterated this to The Daily Caller News Foundation Friday.
Accounts of the raid relayed to The New York Times indicate there were several complicating factors. The SEALs reportedly knew al-Qaida terrorists were alerted to their impending raid deep inside Yemen Saturday, but continued the operation anyway. As the terrorists prepared for the SEALs’ arrivals, the U.S. intercepted their communications. The SEALs were a mere five miles away and chose to press on, despite knowing it would be a bloody firefight.
When the SEALs arrived, they engaged in a nearly 50-minute firefight, which killed one U.S. service member and injured six others. The SEALs also encountered a highly unusual situation: “Several women in the compound immediately, ran to pre-established positions — as though they had trained to be ready, and trained to be combatants — and engaged with us,” according to Pentagon Spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis.
The Pentagon acknowledged after the raid that several civilians were likely killed, including women and children. Unconfirmed reports indicate that deceased al-Qaida leader Anwar al-Awlaki’s 8-year-old daughter was killed by crossfire in the operation.
“Almost everything went wrong,” a U.S. defense official told NBC News after the operation.
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