Qasim al Raymi rose from an Al Qaeda trainer in Afghanistan to taking the group's leadership in Yemen.

The White House released a statement on Thursday confirming the death of Qasim al Raymi, the leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), in a counter-terrorism operation in Yemen.

"His death further degrades AQAP and the global al-Qa'ida (sic) movement, and it brings us closer to eliminating the threats these groups pose to our national security," President Donald Trump said in a statement. However, there was no mention of when exactly he was killed.

Raymi was one of the most wanted terrorists by the United States, who offered a $10 million bounty for any information leading to his death or capture.

Early life in Al Qaeda and founding AQAP

Raymi was born in 1978, in the Raymah Governorate, near the Yemeni capital of Sanaa. He joined Al Qaeda in the 1990s as a trainer in Afghanistan until his return to Yemen. It is unclear when exactly he returned.

After being suspected for several embassy bombings in the Yemeni capital, he was imprisoned for five years in 2004.

However, Raymi escaped from prison two years later along with Nasir al Wuhaysi, a former leader of AQAP. 

In 2007, six Spanish tourists, and two Yemenis, were killed in a blast in Yemen's eastern province of Marib, which Raymi claimed responsibility for.

He was also involved in a deadly attack in 2008 on the US Embassy in Sanaa, killing 10 Yemeni guards and four civilians along with six militants

In January 2009, Raymi, along with four other men, announced the formation of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula by unifying its Saudi Arabian and Yemeni branches. Together with Wuhayshi, they recruited Arab fighters from Afghanistan and Iraq for AQAP.

Initially, he was a military commander in AQAP and orchestrated several attacks within Yemen.

He was added by the US and Saudi Arabia to their most-wanted list of terrorists after taking the role with AQAP. Soon after, the US offered a $10 million reward for his capture or killing in 2014.

In May 2012, AQAP attacked a military parade in Sanaa that killed more than 120 people. A year later, at least 52 people were killed in the attack on the Yemeni Defence Ministry when AQAP militants raided a hospital in the compound.

Becoming Emir of AQAP

Raymi became the leader of AQAP after the death of his predecessor Nasir al Wuhayshi in a US drone strike in 2015. 

He announced his leadership through an audio message and vowed to fight against the US.

"All of you [his fighters] must direct and gather your arrows and swords against [the US]," Raymi said.

AQAP was described as "the most active operational franchise" of Al Qaeda, beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan.

After the civil war started in Yemen in 2015, AQAP has expanded its territory in the south and east by exploiting the raging war in the country.

In previous years, the death of Raymi had been reported multiple times, however, they turned out to be false.

Source: TRT World