Navy SEALs were after the head of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in last week’s raid in Yemen, but Qasim al-Raymi survived and is now taunting President Donald Trump.
The raid by SEAL Team 6 and Emirati commandos killed 14 al Qaeda fighters and 10 or 11 civilians, including an 8-year-old girl and one SEAL, Chief Petty Officer William "Ryan" Owens. Trump declared the raid a success.
The raid reportedly has re-energized al Qaeda.
It was unclear whether al-Raymi, considered the third most dangerous terrorist in the world and who is on the U.S. most-wanted terrorist list, escaped, was elsewhere when the raid was conducted or had been tipped off, NBC said.
Preparations for the raid began in the Obama administration. Defense Secretary James Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford reportedly told Trump al-Raymi’s capture would be a game changer.
The raid was conducted by two dozen SEALs, with as many as 40 other ground and air forces backing them up. A half-dozen Yemeni soldiers and a dozen Emirati commandos also were involved, NBC reported.
“Almost everything went wrong,” a senior U.S. intelligence official told NBC. Occupants of the target house may have been alerted by a barking dog.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer called the raid “successful … by all standards.” The Pentagon said U.S. forces captured “materials and information that is yielding valuable intelligence.”
Al Sahab Media, al Qaeda’s main propaganda wing, linked Trump’s inauguration speech and his promises to eradicate Islamic terrorism to the raid and warned Trump’s threats “are directed against Muslims in general.”
Vocative reported AQAP published graphic images on its social media accounts allegedly of children killed in the raid, accusing the United States of “assassinating children” and barbarity.