US President Donald Trump confirmed Thursday that the US had killed the leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, days after the extremist group claimed responsibility for a mass shooting at a US naval base.
The US “conducted a counterterrorism operation in Yemen that successfully eliminated Qassim al-Rimi, a founder and the leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP),” Trump said in a White House statement.
Washington considers AQAP to be the worldwide extremist network’s most dangerous branch.
“Under Rimi, AQAP committed unconscionable violence against civilians in Yemen and sought to conduct and inspire numerous attacks against the United States and our forces,” Trump said.
“His death further degrades AQAP and the global al-Qaeda movement, and it brings us closer to eliminating the threats these groups pose to our national security,” he added.
Trump did not give any details about the circumstances or the timing of the operation.
In the Pensacola attack, eight people were wounded, including two responding sheriff’s deputies, before police shot dead the assailant.
The FBI formally identified the attacker as Mohammed Alshamrani, 21, a second lieutenant in the Royal Saudi Air Force who was training in the US.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman was quick to denounce the shooting as a “heinous crime” and said the gunman “does not represent the Saudi people.”