Qasim al-Raymi

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Qasim al-Raymi
Qassim al Rimi.jpg
Born(1978-06-05)5 June 1978[1]
Died29 January 2020(2020-01-29) (aged 41)
Other namesQassim al Rimi
Known forEmir of AQAP
Military career
Allegiance Al-Qaeda
Years of service1990's–2020
RankEmir of AQAP

Qasim al-Raymi (Arabic: قاسم الريمي‎) (5 June 1978 – 29 January 2020) was the emir of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).[2][3][4] Al-Raymi was one of 23 men who escaped in the 3 February 2006 prison-break in Yemen, along with other notable al-Qaeda members. Al-Raymi was connected to a July 2007 suicide bombing that killed eight Spanish tourists. In 2009, the Yemeni government accused him of being responsible for the running of an al-Qaeda training camp in Abyan province. After serving as AQAP's military commander, al-Raymi was promoted to leader after the death of Nasir al-Wuhayshi on 12 June 2015.[5]

Early life, Afghanistan and al-Qaeda in Yemen[edit]

Al-Raymi was born on June 5, 1978 in the Raymah Governorate, near the Yemen capital of Sana'a. He was a trainer at an al-Qaeda camp in Afghanistan during the 1990s before returning to Yemen. In 2004, he was imprisoned for five years for being suspected in a series of embassy bombings in the capital.[6][1]

After escaping from prison in 2006, al-Raymi, along with Nasir al-Wuhayshi, oversaw the formation of al-Qaeda in Yemen, which took in both new recruits and experienced Arab fighters returning from battlefields across Iraq and Afghanistan.[7][8]

The group claimed responsibility for two suicide bomb attacks that killed six Western tourists before being linked to the assault on the US embassy in Sana'a in September 2008, in which militants detonated bombs and fired rocket-propelled grenades. Ten Yemeni guards and four civilians were killed, along with six assailants.[7]

Founding of AQAP[edit]

In January 2009, al-Raymi, along with three other men, appeared in a video calling for the foundation of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a unification of both al-Qaeda's Yemen and Saudi Arabian branches. He was introduced as AQAP's military commander. The other men were identified as Abu Hareth Muhammad al-Oufi, Abu Sufyan al-Azdi al-Shahri and Nasir al-Wuhayshi.[9][10][11]

Abu Hareth Muhammad al-Oufi was an AQAP field commander, Abu Sufyan al-Azdi al-Shahri was the Deputy of AQAP and Nasir al-Wuhayshi the former Emir of AQAP.[7][12][13]

Military commander of AQAP[edit]

Saudi and American wanted list[edit]

On February 3, 2009, Saudi security officials published a new list of Saudi most wanted terrorist suspects.[14][15] The 68th individual found on the list was named "Muhammad Qasim Mehdi Reemy" or "Qassem Mohammed Mahdi Al-Rimi", with the aliases "Abu Hurayrah" and "Abu Ammar". Qassem Al-Rimi on the Saudi wanted list was one of two Yemenis on the list, and was said to be a "linked to Al Qaeda in Yemen, Saudi Arabia". A few days later an anonymous Saudi official supplied documents to the Associated Press, which alleged that al-Raymi had "links to a plot targeting the U.S. ambassador in San'a."[16] [17] The documents also reported that he rented the house where the operation was planned and that he "monitored the US embassy".[16]

On May 11, 2010, the U.S State Department listed al-Raymi as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. On October 14, 2014, it announced a reward of $5 million for any information leading to his capture or death.[18][1][19]

Previous reports of death[edit]

Al-Raymi's death has been reported multiple times. He was reported to have died during a raid by Yemeni security officials on 9 August 2007.[20] Ali bin Ali Douha and two other militants were reported to have been killed during the raid.[citation needed]

Abu al-Raymi was the target of a raid on al-Qaeda camps in Yemen on December 17, 2009, which reportedly was carried out by U.S. cruise missiles. He was not reported killed.[21]

It was reported that he was killed in a January 4, 2010 raid by Yemeni security forces, though this was proven false. However, according to officials, a Yemeni air strike on two cars, one of which reportedly contained al-Raymi, was conducted on Friday, January 15, 2010. Al-Raymi was reported to be one of those killed.[22][23] Of the eight men thought to be in the two cars, six are thought to have been killed in the strike.[24]

Following reports of his death, al-Raymi was described as the military commander for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).[22][23] He was reported to have "orchestrated" 25 December 2009 attempted suicide bombing of Nigerian Umar Farouq Abdulmutallab. Al-Raymi announced the creation of an "Aden-Abyan Army" to free the country of "crusaders and their apostate agents," in an Internet audio tape.[25]

Apology for hospital attack[edit]

Following the 2013 attack on the Yemeni Defense Ministry, which resulted in the killing of numerous doctors and patients at a hospital present in the compound, al-Raymi released a video message apologizing, claiming that the team of attackers were directed not to assault the hospital in the attack, but that one had gone ahead and done so.[26]

Yakla raid[edit]

On January 29, 2017, al-Raymi was the supposed target of a military action undertaken by the United States known as the Yakla raid. The raid resulted in the death of a Navy SEAL and of a number of civilians including a U.S. citizen. Shortly after the raid, on February 5, 2017, al-Raymi released an audiotape onto the internet referencing the raid. The fact that al-Raymi had been a main target of the raid had not been previously confirmed. In the audiotape, al-Raymi confirmed he was still alive and taunted U.S President Donald Trump.[27]

Emir of AQAP[edit]

On June 16, 2015, following the death of former AQAP Emir and founder Nasir al-Wuhayshi, AQAP commander Khaled Batarfi confirmed al-Raymi had been elected by the group's leadership council to succeed Wuhayshi.[7]

On July 8, 2015, al-Raymi swore allegiance to al-Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri. He congratulated the recent successes of the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, al-Nusra Front, and the gains made by Army of Conquest coalition in Syria. He called for renewed attacks against the United States, remarking ""All of you must direct and gather your arrows and swords against [America].".[8] Reports say that in 28 June 2016, an airstrike targeted the home of Qasim in Abyan Governorate, killing five people, including two family members of the targeted leader. Qasim survived the attack, with only some wounds.[28][29]

On October 18, 2016 the US State Department announced that it is offering rewards of $5 and $10 million for information concerning al-Raymi and another AQAP leader. The US State Department offered $10 million for information on al-Raymi and $5 million for Khalid al-Batarfi.[30]

For more than five years al-Raymi had eluded U.S. forces as he led what experts sometimes refer to as al-Qaida's “most dangerous franchise.” He was the target of the Jan. 29, 2017, special operations raid in which Navy SEAL William Owens was killed.[31][32]


On January 31, 2020, The New York Times reported that three U.S. officials "expressed confidence" that al-Raymi, the emir of AQAP was killed by U.S. airstrike on 29 January,[a] while traveling in a car with another senior AQAP leader, Abu Al-Baraa Al-Ibby, in the Yakla area of Wald Rabi' District, Al Bayda Governorate, Yemen, according to local sources, although there was no official confirmation.[33]

On February 1, 2020, U.S. President Donald Trump appeared to confirm reports that the U.S. had killed Qassim al-Rimi, the leader of an al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen by retweeting reports claiming that that CIA had conducted a drone strike targeting the AQAP leader.[34] Some experts considered him to be a possible successor to Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaeda's overall.[34]

On February 6, 2020, the White House released a statement confirming al-Rimi's death.[35]


One of al-Raymi's brothers is Ali Yahya Mahdi Al Raimi, a Yemeni held at the Guantanamo Bay detention center.[36] Ali Yahya Mahdi Al Raimi was transferred from Guantanamo to Saudi Arabia in 2016.[37]


  1. ^ There were two U.S. airstrikes in the previous week in Yemen, the first was on 25 January, in Al Abdiyah District, Ma'rib Governorate, which led to killing an individual, whose identity remains unknown. The second airstrike was on 27 January, which killed Abdullah Al-Adani.[33]


  1. ^ a b c d "Qasim al-Rimi". Rewards for Justice. 11 May 2010. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  2. ^ "AQAP confirms death of senior leader". The Long War Journal. 16 June 2015. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  3. ^ [dead link]"2 tourists dead in attack in Yemen". International Herald Tribune. 18 January 2008. Archived from the original on 21 January 2008. Retrieved 18 January 2008.
  4. ^ Ahmed Al Haj (18 January 2008). "2 tourists killed in Yemen convoy attack". USA Today. Archived from the original on 15 January 2010.
  5. ^ Al Qaeda's second in command killed in Yemen strike; successor named, Jethro Mullen, CNN, 16 June 2015
  6. ^ "Profile: Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula". BBC. 16 June 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  7. ^ a b c d "Profile: Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula". BBC. 16 June 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  8. ^ a b "New AQAP leader renews allegiance to the 'beloved father,' Ayman al Zawahiri". The Long War Journal. 9 July 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
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  10. ^ M. Ghazanfar Ali Khan (27 January 2009). "Kingdom re-arrests ex-Gitmo inmates". Arab News. Retrieved 6 September 2009.
  11. ^ YouTube. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
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  14. ^ "Saudi Arabia's 85 Most Wanted". Intelwire. 5 February 2009. Archived from the original on 6 September 2009. Retrieved 18 June 2009.
  15. ^ "Kingdom unveils list of 85 wanted militants abroad". Arab News. 3 February 2009. Archived from the original on 10 September 2009.
  16. ^ a b Associated Press (7 February 2009). "Saudi suspects seeking to revive al-Qaida". NBC News.
  17. ^ "Saudi suspects seeking to revive al-Qaida". Boston Herald. 7 February 2009. Archived from the original on 18 December 2011. Retrieved 17 December 2011. Qassem al-Reemi, 30, meanwhile, one of the few Yemenis on the list, has "links to a plot targeting the U.S. ambassador in San'a," the capital of Yemen. "He rented the house in which the plot for that operation was hatched," according to the documents. "He also monitored the U.S. Embassy."CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  18. ^ "Designations of AQAP Leaders Qasim al-Rimi and Nayif al-Qahtani". U.S Department of State. 11 May 2010. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  19. ^ "Rewards for Justice - Reward Offers for Information on Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) Leaders". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 18 August 2018.
  20. ^ Khaled Al-Mahdi (9 August 2007). "Yemen Forces Kill Al-Qaeda Mastermind". Arab News. Archived from the original on 19 March 2010.
  21. ^ ABC News. "Cruise Missiles Strike Yemen - ABC News". ABC News. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  22. ^ a b "Yemen: Al Qaeda Military Chief Killed in Yemen Airstrike". Fox News. 15 January 2010. Archived from the original on 15 January 2010.
  23. ^ a b James Gordon Meek (15 January 2010). "Yemeni airstrike kills six Al Qaeda; Qassim Al-Raymi, leader behind Christmas jet plot, may be dead". New York Daily News. Archived from the original on 15 January 2010.
  24. ^ Reuters Editorial (15 January 2010). "Six al Qaeda militants killed in Yemen air strike". Reuters. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  25. ^ "Loading". 15 February 2009. Retrieved 17 November 2011.
  26. ^ "Al Qaeda: We're sorry about Yemen hospital attack". CNN. 22 December 2013. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  27. ^ "Yemen Raid Had Secret Target: Al Qaeda Leader Qassim Al-Rimi". NBC News. 7 February 2017. Retrieved 7 February 2017.
  28. ^ "#أبين : مقتل خمسة اشخاص في غارة على منزل قيادي في #القاعدة" [# Abyan: five people were killed in a raid on a leading house in the # rule] (in Arabic). Baghdad: Barakish. 28 June 2016. Archived from the original on 1 March 2017. Retrieved 14 April 2017.
  29. ^ "مصادر لـ24: إصابة زعيم القاعدة قاسم الريمي في غارة أمريكية بأبين" [Sources for 24: injury Qaeda leader Qasim al-Rimi in a US raid in Abyan] (in Arabic). 29 June 2016. Archived from the original on 29 June 2016. Retrieved 14 April 2017. وقال مصدر قبلي لـ24 إن زعيم القاعدة في اليمن قاسم الريمي أصيب في الغارة ونقل إلى جبال المراقشة في أبين لتلقي العلاج، مؤكداً أن اصابة الريمي خطيرة.
  30. ^ "US offers reward for information on 2 senior AQAP leaders | FDD's Long War Journal". 18 October 2018.
  31. ^ Callimachi, Rukmini; Schmitt, Eric; Barnes, Julian E. (31 January 2020). "U.S. Strikes at Leader of Qaeda in Yemen". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  32. ^ "U.S. killed a top al-Qaida leader in Yemen, reports say".
  33. ^ a b "Exclusive: Local sources confirm the killing of Qassim Al-Raimi by US strike in Al-Baydha". Almasdar Online. 2 February 2020.
  34. ^ a b Semones, Evan. "Trump appears to confirm killing of al Qaeda leader in Yemen via retweet". POLITICO.
  35. ^ "Statement from the President". White House. 6 February 2020.
  36. ^ Human Rights Watch; Letta Tayler (2009). No Direction Home: Returns from Guantánamo to Yemen. Human Rights Watch. p. 29. ISBN 9781564324665.
  37. ^ "The Guantanamo Docket: Ali Yahya Mahdi al Raimi". New York Times.