WASHINGTON — Sean Spicer disputed the NBC News report that claimed the raid in Yemen last week had “a secret objective” to kill the head of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
The White House press secretary said that Qassim al-Rimi, who is considered to be the third most dangerous terrorist in the world, was “absolutely not” the target of the raid at the briefing Tuesday.
“The raid that was conducted in Yemen was an intelligence gathering raid,” Spicer said. “That’s what it was. It was highly successful. It achieved the purpose it was going to get, and save for the loss of life that we suffered and the injuries…”
Sean Spicer says raid in Yemen “was an intelligence-gathering raid” and insists it was “highly-successful." pic.twitter.com/F7468Mbqir
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) February 7, 2017
“So are you pushing back on reporting that he was the target?” NBC News’s Hallie Jackson asked.
“Absolutely,” Spicer said. “He was not. The goal of the raid was intelligence gathering, and that’s what we received and that’s what we got.”
“Military and intelligence officials told NBC News the goal of the massive operation was to capture or kill Qassim al-Rimi, considered the third most dangerous terrorist in the world and a master recruiter,” NBC said in a report Monday. “But while one SEAL, 14 al Qaeda fighters and some civilians, including an 8-year-old girl, were killed during a firefight, al-Rimi is still alive and in Yemen, multiple military officials said.”
Chief Special Warfare Operator William “Ryan” Owens was killed during the nighttime raid. President Trump joined his family in receiving his remains at Dover Air Force Base last week. (RELATED: President Goes To Dover)