White House announces al-Qaida leader tied to NAS Pensacola shooting has been killed
The White House announced Thursday that the U.S. had killed the leader of the al-Qaida group who claimed responsibility for the attack on Naval Air Station Pensacola.
The founder of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula or AQAP, Qassim al-Rimi was killed in a counterterrorism operation in Yemen. He was a deputy to leader Ayman al-Zawahri.
The Associated Press reported Monday that the group claimed responsibility for the attack conducted by 2nd Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani that killed three people and wounded eight others before he was killed in an exchange of gunfire with Escambia County Sheriff's Office deputies.
AQAP has long been considered the global network's most dangerous branch and has attempted to carry out attacks on the U.S. mainland.
The group released an 18-minute video that claimed it was in communication with Alshamrani, who, the video claimed, was planning an attack for years.
The statement from the White House did not say when the operation that killed al-Rimi took place.
U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., issued a statement thanking President Donald Trump for taking action.
"On Sunday, Qasim al-Rimi, a co-founder of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, claimed responsibility for the terrorist attack at NAS Pensacola in December," Gaetz said in the statement.
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"Today, Qasim al-Rimi is dead. On behalf of the thousands of patriots in Northwest Florida, I thank President Trump for his swift action in eliminating this brutal terrorist," he continued.
The White House statement on the operation said al-Rimi joined al-Qaida in the 1990s, working in Afghanistan for Osama bin Laden.
"His death further degrades AQAP and the global al-Qaida movement, and it brings us closer to eliminating the threats these groups pose to our national security," the White House statement said.