Al-Qaeda terror chief in Yemen eliminated in US drone strike

BREAKING: The US has carried out a drone strike targeting the chief of al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen, Muslim terrorist Qassim al-Rimi, after months of tracking him, according to US officials, the NYT reports.

The officials expressed confidence that the 41-year-old Muslim terrorist whose terrorist pedigree traces to the era before the September 11 attacks, was eliminated in a January airstrike in Yemen but were awaiting confirmation before making a public announcement.

The C.I.A. learned of al-Rimi’s location from an informer in Yemen in November, according to a US official who was briefed on the strike. That information allowed the government to begin tracking him through surveillance drones.

Local reports in Yemen said that a drone strike this month eliminated two terrorists in the area of Wadi Abedah in central Yemen. The reports did not identify the terrorists killed in the strike.

The Yemen branch, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, has tried to attack the United States and Europe and is thought to still want to.

If confirmed, his death could represent a significant blow to the al-Qaeda affiliate, which remains one of the most potent branches of the terrorist group.

A veteran of al-Qaeda’s training camps in Afghanistan, al-Rimi later returned to his native Yemen, where he was sentenced to five years in prison for plotting to kill the American ambassador there. He broke out of jail a year later and quickly rose through the ranks of the al-Qaeda affiliate.

The State Department offered a $5 million bounty for information leading to his capture, and later doubled the reward to $10 million, as he was linked to numerous plots against Americans.

According to the State Department, he is believed to have played a role in the 2008 terror attack on the American Embassy in Sana, which killed 10 guards and four civilians, as well as the 2009 plot by the Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to take down a Detroit-bound flight with explosives concealed in his underwear.