Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (Aqpa) confirmed on Sunday the death of its leader, two weeks after the announcement by Washington of his death in an American drone strike in Yemen, according to a press release from the American center for monitoring Islamist websites SITE.
It is a religious leader of Aqpa, Hamed ben Hammoud al-Tamimi, who confirmed it in a speech broadcast on Sunday, “talking at length about Rimi and his jihadist journey, and affirming that Khaled ben Omar Batarfi is the new leader d’Aqpa, ”said SITE.
US President Donald Trump announced on February 6 that the United States had “eliminated” Qassem al-Rimi, a few days after the jihadist group claimed responsibility for a shooting at the American naval base at Pensacola in Florida in early December. Three American sailors were killed by a Saudi Air Force second lieutenant in the attack.
Washington considers Yemen-based Aqpa the most dangerous branch of the jihadist network, and since Donald Trump took office in 2017, the United States has stepped up attacks on the group. “Khaled Batarfi has appeared in many Aqpa videos over the past few years. Although his role was never revealed, he appeared to be Rimi’s assistant and spokesperson for the group, “added SITE.
Abroad, Aqpa claimed responsibility for sporadic attacks, in particular that of the headquarters of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in Paris in 2015, which had killed 12 people.
Aqpa would have lost its power
Aqpa’s first military commander when it was created in 2009, Rimi was appointed head of the organization after the death of his predecessor, Nasser al-Wahishi, in an American drone strike in Yemen in 2015. His death “further weakens Aqpa and the global Al Qaeda movement and that brings us closer to eliminating the threats that these groups pose to our national security, “the White House said on February 7.
Experts agree that Aqpa had already lost its power before Rimi’s death. “Aqpa is at its lowest level in a decade, at least in terms of identity as a group consistent with an essentially religious ideology […] His dream of establishing an Islamic state in Yemen has fallen apart, ”said Elisabeth Kendall, a Yemen specialist at the University of Oxford.