In late January, the first counterterror operation carried out under approval by Donald Trump also ended in his presidency’s first-known combat death. Soon, the central Yemen raid was revealed as a “boots on the ground” mission that went completely wrong. Several non-combatants perished, including an 8-year-old American girl. And although a dozen Al-Queda militants were killed in the raid, the main target evaded capture or death.
Qassim al-Rimi, the targeted Al-Qaeda leader of the Arabian Peninsula, is indeed still alive and well after the failed Navy SEAL raid, as confirmed to NBC News by military officials. He’s reportedly having a grand time while taunting the heck out of President Trump in an audio recording:
On Sunday, al-Rimi — who landed on the United States’ most-wanted terrorist list after taking over al Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate in 2015 — released an audio recording that military sources said is authentic.
“The fool of the White House got slapped at the beginning of his road in your lands,” he said in an apparent reference to the Jan. 29 raid.
Neither the White House nor the Pentagon would provide comment on the mocking, but al-Rimi was such a valuable target the mission was considered to be “worth the risk.” The planning reportedly began after Trump was elected, and the Pentagon first briefed the Obama White House, but the outgoing administration reportedly deferred to Trump, who approved the operation as the start of increased counterterror efforts in Yemen. There’s no known details about whether al-Rimi was present during any part of the raid.
It’s hard to believe that even White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer could call the mission a success if the main target is still alive and taunting Trump. Indeed, that’s what’s happening. Spicer used his famed alternative-facts method to describe the raid as “very, very well thought out and executed” and “a successful operation by all standards.” However, Reuters revealed (via multiple U.S. military officials) that the raid happened without “sufficient intelligence, ground support, or adequate backup preparations.”