Qasim al-Raymi

Qasim al-Raymi was a U.S.-designated terrorist and the emir (leader) of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, (AQAP). He filled this position on June 16, 2015, one day after former AQAP leader Nasir al-Wuhayshi died in a U.S. drone strike.“Designations of AQAP Leaders Qasim al-Rimi and Nayif al-Qahtani,” U.S. Department of State, May 11, 2010, https://2009-2017.state.gov/j/ct/rls/other/des/143206.htm;
Khaled Wassef, “Al Qaeda’s new No. 1 in Yemen is no lackey,” CBS News, June 17, 2015, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/aqap-chief-qassem-al-rimi-is-no-lackey-to-fill-in-for-nasir-al-wuhayshi-killed-in-us-airstrike/;
Jane Onyanga-Omara, “Al-Qaeda second-in-command killed in U.S. airstrike,” USA Today, June 17, 2015, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2015/06/16/al-qaeda-says-leader-killed/28796037/.
From 2006 until he began to lead AQAP, Raymi directed the movement of al-Qaeda fighters and played a key role in the group’s seizure of territory in Yemen’s southern provinces.Gregory D. Johnsen, “A Profile of AQAP’s Upper Echelon,” Combatting Terrorism Center, July 24, 2012, https://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/a-profile-of-aqaps-upper-echelon. On January 31, 2020, the U.S. announced that it launched a drone strike against Raymi. The White House confirmed his death in an announcement on February 6, 2020.Gordon Lubold and Warren P. Strobel, “U.S. Targets Yemen Al Qaeda Leader in Drone Strike,” Wall Street Journal, January 31, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-targets-yemen-al-qaeda-leader-in-drone-strike-11580511550.; Rukmini Callimachi, Eric Schmitt and Julian E. Barnes, “U.S. Strikes at Leader of Qaeda in Yemen,” New York Times, January 31, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/31/world/middleeast/qaeda-yemen-alrimi.html; Nikki Carvajal and Caroline Kelly, “White House announces death of terror leader Qassim al-Rimi,” CNN, February 7, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/06/politics/white-house-announces-death-of-aqap-leader/index.html.

Raymi, who was trained by al-Qaeda in Afghanistan in the 1990s,Thomas Joscelyn, “Fifteen years after the 9/11 attacks, al Qaeda fights on,” Long War Journal, September 11, 2016, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2016/09/fifteen-years-after-the-911-attacks-al-qaeda-fights-on.php. was imprisoned in 2005 in Sanaa, Yemen, for connections to terror activity.Gregory D. Johnsen, “Tracking Yemen’s 23 Escaped Jihadi Operatives- Part 2,” Jamestown Foundation, October 24, 2007, http://www.jamestown.org/single/?no_cache=1&tx_ttnews%5Bswords%5D=8fd5893941d69d0be3f378576261ae3e&tx_ttnews%5Bany_of_the_words%5D=Yemen&tx_ttnews%5Bpointer%5D=3&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=4466&tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=7&cHash=dc7a3e8ab7#.VQhxnY7F-Qw. In February 2006, he escaped from prison alongside 22 other prisoners, including Wuhayshi, who was then a high-ranking member of al-Qaeda in Yemen—AQAP’s precursor.“Designations of AQAP Leaders Qasim al-Rimi and Nayif al-Qahtani,” U.S. Department of State, May 11, 2010, https://2009-2017.state.gov/j/ct/rls/other/des/143206.htm. Following his escape, Raymi helped Wuhayshi to rebuild al-Qaeda in Yemen’s fractured network, and the pair oversaw the merging of the Yemeni and Saudi al-Qaeda branches to form AQAP in 2009.Gregory D. Johnsen, “A Profile of AQAP’s Upper Echelon,” Combatting Terrorism Center, July 24, 2012, https://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/a-profile-of-aqaps-upper-echelon. Raymi played a large role in “reviving the regional node of al-Qaeda” and “recruiting the current generation of militants making up the Yemen-based AQAP,” according to the U.S. Department of State.“Designations of AQAP Leaders Qasim al-Rimi and Nayif al-Qahtani,” U.S. Department of State, May 11, 2010, https://2009-2017.state.gov/j/ct/rls/other/des/143206.htm. Before officially taking over as AQAP’s emir, Raymi served as the group’s Military Commander and successfully captured territory throughout Yemen’s southwestern regions.Gregory D. Johnsen, “A Profile of AQAP’s Upper Echelon,” Combating Terrorism Center,” July 24, 2012, https://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/a-profile-of-aqaps-upper-echelon. Raymi has been erroneously reported killed numerous times—including by a U.S. airstrike in June 2010.Gregory D. Johnsen, “A Profile of AQAP’s Upper Echelon,” Combating Terrorism Center,” July 24, 2012, https://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/a-profile-of-aqaps-upper-echelon.

Following Raymi’s June 2015 preferment to head of AQAP, the leader reaffirmed his loyalty to al-Qaeda emir Ayman al-Zawahiri in a July 2015 online video. “I pledge allegiance to you [Zawahiri]…and to wage jihad in the cause of Allah the Almighty,” Raymi professed.Thomas Joscelyn, “New AQAP Leader renews allegiance to the ‘beloved father,’ Ayman al Zawahiri,” Long War Journal, July 9, 2015, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2016/09/fifteen-years-after-the-911-attacks-al-qaeda-fights-on.php. He said the pledge was on behalf of all of AQAP, and promised the fight against the United States would continue.Thomas Joscelyn, “New AQAP Leader renews allegiance to the ‘beloved father,’ Ayman al Zawahiri,” Long War Journal, July 9, 2015, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2016/09/fifteen-years-after-the-911-attacks-al-qaeda-fights-on.php.

The U.S. Department of State designated Raymi as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) under Executive Order 13224 on May 11, 2010.“Designations of AQAP Leaders Qasim al-Rimi and Nayif al-Qahtani,” U.S. Department of State, May 11, 2010, https://2009-2017.state.gov/j/ct/rls/other/des/143206.htm;
“Executive Order 13224,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, accessed March 17, 2015, http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Documents/terror.pdf.
On the same day, the U.N. Security Council added Raymi to its ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions List.“ISIL (Da'esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions List,” United Nations Security Council, accessed November 8, 2018, https://www.un.org/sc/suborg/en/sanctions/1267/aq_sanctions_list.

In an October 30, 2018, al-Qaeda video message, the group revealed that Qasim al-Raymi was ill.“New video message from al-Qā’idah in the Arabian Peninsula: ‘Demolishing of the Espionage: Part One ‘Industry of the Espionage'’’,” Jihadology, October 30, 2018, (min. 11), https://jihadology.net/2018/10/30/new-video-message-from-al-qaidah-in-the-arabian-peninsula-demolishing-of-the-espionage-part-one-industry-of-the-espionage/; “Al-Qaeda in Yemen casually reveals its leader is unwell in new video,” BBC Monitoring, October 31, 2018, https://monitoring.bbc.co.uk. Thomas Joscelyn, Twitter post, November 9, 2018, 8:19 AM, https://twitter.com/thomasjoscelyn/status/1060929918266208264; Mina al-Lami, Twitter post, October 31, 2018, 8:35 AM, https://twitter.com/Minalami/status/1057657231943131136.

On November 9, 2018, the U.S. State Department offered a $10 million reward for information leading to Raymi’s capture.“Information that brings to justice Qasim al-Rimi,” U.S. Department of State, accessed November 9, 2018, https://rewardsforjustice.net/english/qasim_al_rimi.html. On January 31, 2020, the U.S. announced that it launched a drone strike against Raymi. The exact date of the drone strike has not yet been released, but local media reported that a U.S. drone strike occurred on January 25, 2020, in Yemen’s Marib Province. The drone strike against Raymi was not carried out by the U.S. military, and instead was orchestrated by the C.I.A., following months of tracking Raymi through aerial surveillance and other intelligence. According to a U.S. official briefed on the strike, the C.I.A. learned of Raymi’s locations from an informer in Yemen in November. Additionally, tribal leaders in the Marib claimed that the U.S. drone strike on January 25 destroyed a building that housed other al-Qaeda militants.Gordon Lubold and Warren P. Strobel, “U.S. Targets Yemen Al Qaeda Leader in Drone Strike,” Wall Street Journal, January 31, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-targets-yemen-al-qaeda-leader-in-drone-strike-11580511550.; Rukmini Callimachi, Eric Schmitt and Julian E. Barnes, “U.S. Strikes at Leader of Qaeda in Yemen,” New York Times, January 31, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/31/world/middleeast/qaeda-yemen-alrimi.html. The White House confirmed Raymi’s death in an announcement on February 6, 2020.Nikki Carvajal and Caroline Kelly, “White House announces death of terror leader Qassim al-Rimi,” CNN, February 7, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/06/politics/white-house-announces-death-of-aqap-leader/index.html. According to the Site Intelligence Group, on February 23, al-Qaeda confirmed Raymi’s death. It is suspected that Raymi’s deputy, Khalid Batarfi, has taken over as the new AQAP leader.“Al-Qaida Confirms Death of AQAP Leader,” Voice of America, February 23, 2020, https://www.voanews.com/middle-east/al-qaida-confirms-death-aqap-leader.

 
United States

The U.S. designated Qasim al-Rimi a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order 13224 on May 11, 2010.“Designations of AQAP Leaders Qasim al-Rimi and Nayif al-Qahtani,” U.S. Department of State, May 11, 2010, https://2009-2017.state.gov/j/ct/rls/other/des/143206.htm; “Executive Order 13224,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, accessed March 17, 2015, http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Documents/terror.pdf.

The U.S. Department of State Rewards for Justice Program is offering up to a $10 million reward for information that brings Qasim al-Rimi to justice.“Information that brings to justice Qasim al-Rimi,” U.S. Department of State, accessed March 17, 2015, http://www.rewardsforjustice.net/english/qasim_al_rimi.html.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom listed Qasim Mohamed Mahdi al-Rimi as an Asset Freeze Target on May 26, 2010.“CONSOLIDATED LIST OF FINANCIAL SANCTIONS TARGETS IN THE UK,” GOV.UK, last modified October 19, 2018, http://hmt-sanctions.s3.amazonaws.com/sanctionsconlist.htm.

United Nations

The United Nations Security Council added Qasim Mohamed Mahdi al-Rimi to its ISIL (Da'esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions List on May 11, 2010.“ISIL (Da'esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions List,” United Nations Security Council, accessed November 8, 2018, https://www.un.org/sc/suborg/en/sanctions/1267/aq_sanctions_list.

European Union

The European Union listed Qasim Mohamed Mahdi al-Rimi as a “natural person” associated with the ISIL (Da'esh) and Al-Qaida organisations on May 11, 2010.“COMMISSION IMPLEMENTING REGULATION (EU) 2016/1063,” EUR-Lex, accessed November 8, 2018, https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=celex:32016R1063.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabian security officials added Qasim al-Rimi to a list of 85 suspected militants wanted around the world on February 3, 2009.“Kingdom unveils list of 85 wanted militants abroad,” Arab News, February 3, 2009, http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.arabnews.com%2F%3Fpage%3D1%26section%3D0%26article%3D118850%26d%3D3%26m%3D2%26y%3D2009&date=2009-09-10.

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