Secret Target of Yemen Raid Is Still Alive, Taunts Trump

President Donald Trump and Ivanka Trump travel to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to meet the family of Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Last week’s Navy SEAL raid where “almost everything went wrong” had a more ambitious goal than previously reported. According to NBC News, the aim was to capture or kill Qassim al-Rimi, the leader of Al Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate, who is considered the third most dangerous terrorist in the world. It’s unclear whether he was present during the raid, or how he avoided capture, but now he’s released an audio recording taunting President Trump.

“The fool of the White House got slapped at the beginning of his road in your lands,” al-Rimi says in a recording released Sunday. Military sources told NBC they believe it’s authentic.

Al-Rimi also claims there were 25 victims of the attack, and scores of U.S. soldiers were killed or wounded. Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens, a Navy SEAL, was killed in the attack, and three other U.S. military personnel were injured. Nawar Al-Awlaki, the 8-year-old daughter of American Al Qaeda leader Anwar Al-Awlaki, was killed in the raid as well, but the exact number of civilian casualties has not been confirmed.

The report also sheds some light on how the decision was made to proceed with the raid. The Obama administration planned the operation, but left the final decision to Trump. NBC News reports:

After two months of military preparation increasingly focused on the opportunity to capture al-Rimi, Trump was told by Defense Secretary James Mattis and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that his capture would be a “game changer,” according to a senior White House official with direct knowledge of the discussions.

In making their case, they told Trump that they doubted that the Obama administration would have been bold enough to try it, this official said.

Last week three anonymous U.S. military officials told Reuters that they felt Trump approved the mission despite insufficient planning and support. The New York Times reported that the decision was made over a dinner with advisers Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Vice-President Mike Pence, National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, and Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer initially said the raid was “a successful operation by all standards,” and the Pentagon said U.S. forces captured “materials and information that is yielding valuable intelligence.”

Secret Target of Yemen Raid Is Still Alive, Taunts Trump