Al-Rimi was a founder of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. The affiliate has long been considered the global network’s most dangerous branch for its attempts to carry out attacks on the U.S. mainland.
The White House in a statement said: “At the direction of President Donald J. Trump, the United States conducted a counterterrorism operation in Yemen that successfully eliminated Qasim al-Rimi,”
“His death further degrades AQAP and the global al-Qa’ida movement, and it brings us closer to eliminating the threats these groups pose to our national security.”
Yemeni tribal leaders said the drone strike destroyed a building housing al-Qaeda militants.
Al-Rimi had said in an 18-minute video that his group was responsible for the Dec. 6 shooting at the base. He called the shooter, Saudi Air Force officer Mohammed Alshamrani, a “courageous knight” and a “hero.” The shooter opened fire inside a classroom at the base, killing three people and wounding two sheriff’s deputies before one of the deputies killed him. Eight others were also hurt.
The shooting focused public attention on the presence of foreign students in American military training programs and exposed shortcomings in the screening of cadets.
The tribal leaders said the drone strike took place in the Wadi Ubaidah area in the eastern province of Marib. The area is known as a stronghold for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, as the Yemeni affiliate is known.
“We will continue to protect the American people by tracking down and eliminating terrorists who seek to do us harm,” Trump said.