The Yemeni government has claimed it killed the military commander of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula during an airstrike in a remote region of the country.
Abu Hurayrah Qasim al Raymi, the military commander of al Qaeda in Yemen, was among six senior members of the terror group thought to have been killed during an airstrike.
The Yemeni government said its air force struck two cars carrying Abu Hurayrah Qasim al Raymi and senior members of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in the Al Ajasher region, a mountainous region between Saada and Jawf.
The strike targeted Raymi and al Qaeda leaders Aidh Jaber al Shabwani, Ammar Obada al Waili, Saleh al Tais, and an Egyptian known as Abu Ayman. Both Shabwani and Ayamn are thought to have been killed; the identity of the others killed in the strike is not known.
Shabwani was the leader of al Qaeda in Marib province. Ayman is said to move back and forth between Yemen and Afghanistan, where he directs suicide attacks against Afghan and Coalition forces.
The deaths of Raymi, Shabwani, and Ayman have not been confirmed by the US. It is not known if the US military actually carried out the attack or merely provided intelligence and military assistance. Intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal would not comment on the strike. The subject of US and foreign involvement in Yemen is a sensitive one. Two days ago, more than 150 Yemeni clerics said that it was the obligation of Yemenis to wage jihad on foreign countries if they become involved in internal affairs.
The US carried out at least one of the two airstrikes against the terror group in Yemen during December. The US used air-launched cruise missiles during the Dec. 17 strike that targeted al Qaeda camps in Sana'a and Abyan. The Yemeni government claimed it carried out the Dec. 24 airstrike that targeted Abu Nasir al Wuhayshi, his deputy Said al Shihri, Raymi, and radical US-born cleric Anwar al Awlaki.
Raymi was the leader of al Qaeda in Yemen before he yielded authority to Abu Nasir al Wuhayshi. Both Raymi and Wuhayshi were among 13 al Qaeda leaders and fighters who escaped from a Yemeni jail in 2006. In February 2009, Al Qaeda in Yemen merged with the Saudi branch and became Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Raymi was appointed the military commander of the group.