The first covert military action of President Trump’s administration was a raid on an al-Qaeda base in Yemen, possibly to capture a top al-Qaeda leader. Unfortunately, the site was better guarded than expected, and chaos ensued, including the crash of an Osprey aircraft and a firefight that led to the death of an American serviceman, Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens of SEAL Team 6, and several civilians, including ten children. Now an al-Qaeda leader who may have been the target of the raid is openly mocking Trump.
Qassim al-Rimi, the leader of al-Quaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), is considered the third most dangerous terrorist in the world. Now al-Rimi has released an audio message that military experts have confirmed as authentic, declaring: “The White House’s new fool has received a painful blow at your hands in his first outing in your land.”
Speaking on behalf of the Pentagon, Navy Captain Jeff Davis denied that al-Rimi was the target of the raid, saying that the military “never had any hope, intention, or plan” of capturing the AQAP leader. Colonel John Thomas of U. S. Central Command said that “this was not a raid that had anything to do with targeting that individual.” However, a senior White House official noted that al-Rimi had visited the site of the raid in the past and said that the “possibility of any capture drove the highest-level deliberations.”
White House press secretary Sean Spicer called the raid “highly successful.” The raid, conducted by members of SEAL Team 6 and soldiers from Yemen and the United Arab Emirates, was originally planned by the Obama administration, but former President Obama declined to order it to proceed.
The targets of the raid were somehow alerted, and a gunfight broke out among civilian residences. An Osprey aircraft called in for support had a hard landing and was unable to take off. Harrier jets and helicopter gunships were brought in to attack the area, destroy the Osprey to keep it out of enemy hands, and allow the raiders to escape.