The White House on Thursday confirmed that the United States had killed Qasim al-Rimi, the leader of al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen.
“At the direction of President Donald J. Trump, the United States conducted a counterterrorism operation in Yemen that successfully eliminated Qasim al-Rimi,” a White House statement said, without specifying when it took place.
The New York Times had reported days before that al-Rimi was killed in an airstrike in January.
Under al-Rimi, al-Qaeda in Yemen “committed unconscionable violence” the White House statement said, adding that the group “sought to conduct and inspire numerous attacks against the United States and our forces.”
The U.S. State Department had a 10 million dollar reward on information leading to al-Rimi’s capture, and had linked him to a 2008 attack on the U.S. embassy in Sana’a and a plot to bomb a U.S.-bound airliner.
“The United States, our interests, and our allies are safer as a result of his death,” the White House added.
According to the White House, al-Rimi joined al-Qaeda in the 1990s, working in Afghanistan for Osama Bin Laden.
He was considered a potential successor to al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Al-Rimi is the third major figure to be killed in a U.S. strike in recent months.
In October, the U.S. killed Islamic State founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and in January Iranian general Qassem Soleimani was killed on President Trump’s orders.