Yemeni al Qaeda leader al Reimi alive after third report of his death
Local sources dispute the Yemeni government’s account of the death of top level al Qaeda leader. Qasim al Reimi. Yemeni authorities claimed al Reimi was among six top level al Qaeda figures were killed in an air strike January 15.
The website of the Yemeni Defense Ministry reported that six were killed while driving in between Sa’ada and al Jawf provinces in the north of Yemen.
Yemeni Ministry claimed on Saturday that it had positively identified the bodies as including Qasim al Reimi, third in command of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The terror group earlier claimed credit for a failed plot to blow up an airliner over the US last Christmas. The other fatalities were identified as Ammar Abadah al-Waili, Saleh al-Tais, Ayedh Jaber al-Shabwani and Ibrahim Mohammed Saleh al-Banaa. (Al Waeli was later found to be recruiting for al Qaeda in Sa’ada.)
On Sunday, Al Teef, a Yemeni online news site reported that local residents saw some of the men eating lunch with their families, and security sources said perhaps the earlier announcement of the deaths was “hasty.”
On Monday, AQAP issued a statement on jihaddist forums asserting all their members escaped, some with minor wounds. The statement urged “Muslim brothers around the world to disbelieve the alarmed media of the Yemeni government.”
AQAP alleged the Yemeni government was engaged in a propaganda campaign to deceive the United States in order to justify increased counter-terror funding from the US and other Western nations.
“Yemeni government seeks to prove a fake victory that ought to be presented as an offering to Obama and Brown and their allies in the London summit, alleging that it has the ability to eradicate the mujahideen in the Arabian Peninsula, and the goal of the Yemeni officials is to receive bribes from the Western money,” the group said.
In December, the Yemeni government reported that Qasim al Reimi killed in air strikes, twice.
The Yemeni government has a long history of duplicity with the US dating back to the days of the USS Cole bombing. The complicity of some Yemeni officials in the terror attack on the US warship was never fully explored due to the Yemeni government’s obstruction of the FBI’s investigation.
Since then, Yemen has released hundreds of al Qaeda militants under pledges of loyalty to the Yemeni president, including FBI’s most wanted terrorists, Jamal al Badawi and Fahd al Quso who were convicted in Yemeni court for the USS Cole bombing and sentenced to 15 and 10 years in jail respectively.
Yemeni American Jaber Elbaneh, also on the FBI’s most wanted terrorist list, was convicted in Yemen for an attack oil facilities. He surrendered and was tried in absentia. Elbaneh came to court, announced he had made a deal with the president and the matter was finished. Then left again. After US complaints, Elbaneh was supposedly returned to jail.
A jail break by 23 al Qaeda members in 2006 was thought to have been accomplished with inside help. Yemeni has also deployed jihaddists as mercenaries in the five year Sa’ada War in northern Yemen.