If at first you don’t succeed, bomb, bomb again.
President Trump appeared to confirm reports that a US drone killed the leader of al Qaeda’s Yemen branch by posting — without comment — a series of retweets Saturday.
Qassim al-Rimi, head of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, was the target of a January airstrike in Yemen, soon after another US strike killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, CNN reported Friday.
Al-Rimi, a veteran terror chief, was implicated in the 2008 attack on the American embassy in Sana, Yemen that killed 14, as well as in an “underwear bombing” plot in 2009, according to the New York Times.
He was the target of the first military operation Trump ordered as president, a January 2017 raid that left a Navy SEAL dead.
The Sana attack was ugly and the original Yemen op was a black mark.
The raid in Yemen that left one SEAL member dead and killed a number of innocent civilians had missed its main target — head of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, it was revealed Monday.
The raid was the first military operation ordered by President Trump and his elusive target, Qassim al-Rimi, mocked the new president via audio message, according to NBC News.
“The fool of the White House got slapped at the beginning of his road in your lands,” al-Rimi said in a reference to the Jan. 29 raid.
Now the job’s done. With an intriguing footnote.
The CIA learned of al-Rimi’s location from an informant in Yemen in November, according to the Times, and began tracking him through aerial surveillance and other means.
Rimi, 41, became the leader of AQAP when Nasir al-Wuhayshi was killed in a 2015 drone strike.
He previously trained in Afghanistan before returning to Yemen where he was sentenced to five years in prison for plotting to kill an American ambassador. He broke out of prison and rose through the ranks of the group.
In 2017, Rimi released an audio recording mocking President Trump, calling him the “White House’s new fool.” The message came days after a U.S.-led raid against AQAP killed 25 people, including 11 women and children.
The State Department had offered a $10 million bounty for al-Rimi, who was linked to numerous plots against U.S. interest, The New York Times reported.
The CIA believes he was involved in the 2008 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Sana that killed 10 guards and four civilians. He is also suspected of having links to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the so-called “underwear bomber” who attempted to down a Detroit-bound Northwest Airlines flight with plastic explosives on Christmas Day in 2009.
The Al Qaeda affiliate claimed to have organized the attack and supplied him with the bomb.
The airstrike comes in the same month the U.S. targeted Iranian Quds Force Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who American claimed was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of U.S. troops during the Iraq War.
“This was not a DOD operation,” a Pentagon official said Saturday. Spokespeople for the CIA and National Security Council did not immediately respond to requests for comment.