The White House said Thursday that the U.S. has killed Qassim al-Rimi, the leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

A White House statement said al-Rimi was killed in Yemen but did not say when. The counterterrorism operation was conducted at the direction of President Donald Trump, it said.

 Tribal leaders in Yemen said Saturday that a suspected U.S. drone strike destroyed a building housing al Qaeda militants the previous week, and Trump retweeted several tweets and media reports that seemed to offer confirmation that the Jan. 25 strike killed al-Rimi, The Associated Press reported at the time. The Arabian Peninsula branch is often referred to as AQAP.

“Under Rimi, AQAP committed unconscionable violence against civilians in Yemen and sought to conduct and inspire numerous attacks against the United States and our forces,” the White House said.

Al-Rimi was placed on the United States’ most-wanted terrorist list after taking over al Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate in 2015.

A 2017 Navy SEAL raid in Yemen also had a secret objective to capture or kill al-Rimi, but he survived, military and intelligence officials told NBC News at the time. Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens of SEAL Team 6, 14 al Qaeda fighters and some civilians were killed in a firefight, officials have said.

A Defense Department spokesman at the time denied that al-Rimi was a target and said the military “never had any hope, intention or plan” of killing or capturing him in the operation.

Al-Rimi was also the deputy to Ayman al-Zawahiri, who is said to have succeeded Osama bin Laden as the leader of al Qaeda, the White House statement said.

Read more at NBC 

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