Qasim al-Raymi, the leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), was the target of last month's U.S. raid in Yemen, but the most-wanted terrorist wasn't found at the location, U.S. media reported on Monday.
The operation took place in Yakla village in Yemen's Al Bayda province on January 29, when U.S. special forces carried out a ground raid against the alleged headquarters of AQAP, which is considered to be the most dangerous branch of al-Qaeda.
The operation, which was personally approved by U.S. President Donald Trump, had been described as "very successful" by the White House, but senior military officials told NBC News and CNN on Monday that the raid had failed to capture its intended target, Qasim al-Raymi.
It is unknown whether the al-Qaeda leader managed to escape or whether he happened to be somewhere else, but al-Raymi mentioned the raid in an audio tape released last Friday and addressed to the people of Yemen. "The fool of the White House got slapped at the beginning of his road in your lands," he said.
According to the Pentagon, an estimated 14 al-Qaeda militants were killed in the raid, as well as one U.S. Navy SEAL and an undisclosed number of civilians. Human rights group Reprieve reported last week that as many as 23 civilians had been killed, including a newborn baby and 10 other children.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has orchestrated a number of high-profile attacks over the past decade, including the January 2015 shooting attack against the Paris offices of French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people and injuring several others.
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