For immediate release | Wednesday, February 5, 2020

AQAP’s Leader Qasim Al-Raymi Presumed Dead After U.S. Airstrike

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Commander Was Key Player In Yemen, Potential Heir To Lead Al-Qaeda

(New York, N.Y.) – On January 31, 2020, the United States announced that they recently conducted an airstrike that is believed to have resulted in the death of Qasim al-Raymi, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) leader. After having led al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen since 2015, it is speculated that Raymi was next in line to succeed al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. This strike comes from the United States’ continued campaign to target top al-Qaeda officials in an effort to weaken the terrorist organization. Officials have yet to confirm his death, as Raymi has been erroneously reported killed numerous times—including by a U.S. airstrike in June 2010.

Raymi held the position of emir since June 16, 2015, one day after former AQAP leader Nasir al-Wuhayshi died in a U.S. drone strike. From 2006, Raymi has directed the movement of al-Qaeda fighters and played a key role in the group’s seizure of territory in Yemen’s southern provinces.

Raymi was trained by al-Qaeda in Afghanistan in the 1990s and imprisoned in 2005 in Sanaa, Yemen, for connections to terror activity. 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. 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. 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. 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.

AQAP is the union of al-Qaeda’s branches in Saudi Arabia and Yemen. AQAP has carried out violent jihadist attacks both domestically and internationally in service of al-Qaeda’s ideology. AQAP is most known for its terrorist plots on U.S. soil, including the failed attacks by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and Faisal Shahzad, as well as its brutal war against the Yemeni government.

To read CEP’s Qasim al-Raymi resource, please click here.

To read CEP’s al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula resource, please click here.

To read CEP’s al-Qaeda resource, please click here.