US Forces in Yemen: Trump

Mabkhout Ali al Ameri with his 18-month old son Mohammed, shortly after a botched US raid on al Ghayil in January 2017 had killed at least 20 villagers, including Mohammed's mother Fatim Saleh Mohsen. © Iona Craig

Belligerent
US Forces
Country
Yemen
start date
end date
Airwars Grading
Belligerent Assessment
Strike Status
Strike Type

Incident Code

USYEMTr225

Incident date

May 13, 2020

Location

لحزمة, Al Hazma, Ma'rib, Yemen

Geolocation

15.56667, 45.38333 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

A US drone strike reportedly killed at least one alleged AQAP militant, possibly a key communications officer, in Al Hazma, in the Wadi Obeida area of Marib governorate, on May 13th 2020. There were no known associated reports of civilian harm.

According to academic Fatima Alasrar (@YemeniFatima), the strike targeted a house, injuring Abdullah Al-Maliki, a communications officer for AQAP, while killing a second alleged militant from Hadramout, named as Sharfan. According to this source, Al-Maliki’s leg was later amputated in hospital, but he was subsequently released.

A “senior US official”, however, later claimed to the New York Times that a CIA drone strike had killed al-Maliki, stating that he was “an important, emerging communications specialist, pushing out Al Qaeda’s message not just in Yemen but globally”. Likewise, “tribal sources” told Omana that a prominent “Saudi” AQAP leader had been killed in the strike. Given these varying reports, Airwars has assessed that, at minimum, one militant was reportedly killed, with a maximum of two. Likewise, a maximum of one militant was reportedly injured.

In a May 18th press conference, the US Department of Justice confirmed that “a counterterrorism operation targeting AQAP operative Abdullah al-Maliki… was recently conducted in Yemen”. Given that no other strikes were alleged to have targeted Al-Maliki, this event is treated as declared. US Central Command told Airwars that no US military strikes were conducted in Yemen during May 2020, effectively confirming that this was a CIA strike.

In that press conference, US Attorney General William P. Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray indicated that information leading to the strike had been acquired from the phones of Mohammed Saeed Al-Shamrani, who had murdered three US sailors in a December 6th 2019 Pensacola shooting. Al-Maliki and Al-Shamrani had allegedly been in direct contact while the latter was in the US.

As the New York Times noted: “The FBI found that the gunman, Second Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, a Saudi Air Force cadet training with the American military in Pensacola, had communicated with leaders of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and had joined the Saudi military to carry out a ‘special operation,’ Attorney General William P. Barr said at a news conference… The evidence found on Mr. Alshamrani’s phone showed that the Pensacola attack was ‘the brutal culmination of years of planning and preparation’.”

“The al-Maliki group has been seriously degraded and I’m very pleased with the results,” Barr said, regarding the strike. A report by SITE Intelligence identified Al-Maliki with “an official AQAP media channel”, named “Abdullah al-Mujahid”.

SITE Intelligence executive director Rita Katz (@Rita_Katz) and academic Dr Elisabeth Kendall (@Dr_E_Kendall_) both noted that AQAP media output had severely declined since the strike. Since May 13th, online distribution of a lecture series by AQAP leader Khalid Batarfi had ceased, and the group later failed to issue a standard Eid greeting.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1–2
  • Belligerents reported injured
    1

Sources (24) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (15) [ collapse]

  • One source, @YemeniFatima, indicated that Al-Maliki survived the strike, but had his leg amputated in hospital (@YemeniFatima, May 14th 2020)
  • Sources indicated that AQAP media output declined severely in the aftermath of the strike (@Rita_Katz, May 15th 2020)
  • SITE Intelligence identified Al-Maliki with an AQAP media feed, "Abdullah al-Mujahid" (SITE Intelligence, May 18th 2020)
  • The Pensacola shooter, Muhammad al-Shamrani, was allegedly in contact with Al-Maliki before the attack (SITE Intelligence, May 18th 2020)
  • In a press conference, the US Department of Justice indicated that information leading to the strike against Al-Maliki was reportedly obtained from obtained from Al-Shamrani's phones (Daily Mail, May 19th 2020)
  • Pensacola shooter, Mohammed Al-Shamrani (Daily Mail, May 19th 2020)
  • Airman Mohammed Sameh Haitham was one of three US personnel killed in the Pensacola shooting (Daily Mail, May 19th 2020)
  • Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson was one of three US personnel killed in the Pensacola shooting (Daily Mail, May 19th 2020)
  • Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters was one of three US personnel killed in the Pensacola shooting (Daily Mail, May 19th 2020)
  • AQAP claimed responsibility for the December 2019 Pensacola shooting in February 2020 (Daily Mail, May 19th 2020)

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention the village of Al Hazma (لحزمة), allegedly immediately north-east of the city of Ma’rib (مأرب), within the Wadi Obeida (وادي عبيدة) area. The generic coordinates for Al Hazma are: 15.56667, 45.38333. It is important to note the existence of another Al Hazma, south-east of Ma’rib city, at these coordinates: 15.44646, 45.39902. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

  • Reports of the incident mention the village of Al Hazma (لحزمة), allegedly immediately north-east of the city of Ma’rib (مأرب), within the Wadi Obeida (وادي عبيدة) area. It is important to note the existence of another Al Hazma, south-east of Ma’rib city.

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

The evidence derived from Alshamrani’s unlocked phones has already proven useful in protecting the American people. In particular, a counterterrorism operation targeting AQAP operative Abdullah al-Maliki, one of Alshamrani’s overseas associates, was recently conducted in Yemen.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1–2
  • Belligerents reported injured
    1

Sources (24) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr226

Incident date

May 13, 2020

Location

شقرة, Shakra, Abyan, Yemen

Geolocation

13.35663, 45.699426 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Town

Airwars assessment

At least one US drone strike reportedly targeted alleged AQAP militants in or near the coastal town of Shakra, in Abyan governorate, on May 13th 2020. There were no known associated reports of civilian harm.

Local sources told Al-Mandeb that AQAP leader Abu Al-Bara Al-Qifi was killed in a strike against an AQAP site “near the Shakra area”. Yemen Press Agency also reported that strikes took place in Shakra, allegedly targeting AQAP militants amongst pro-government forces. AQAP militants have previously been reported to have fought alongside or integrated into pro-government groups.

A single source, @ALhairan134, appeared to allege that ISIS forces had instead been the target of the strike.

US Central Command told Airwars that no US military strikes were conducted in Yemen during May 2020. It is, however, possible that an undeclared strike was conducted by the CIA, or as part of a clandestine US military action. A separate confirmed US strike, likely conducted by the CIA, also took place on this date against a high-value AQAP target, Abdullah al-Maliki.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected targets
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), ISIS - Yemen
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1

Sources (12) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (3) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention strikes in the vicinity or within the coastal town of Shakra (شقرة), for which the generic coordinates are: 13.35663, 45.699426. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

According to an email from CENTCOM to Airwars, there were no US military strikes during May 2020 in Yemen.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected targets
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), ISIS - Yemen
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1

Sources (12) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr224

Incident date

April 26, 2020

Location

جبل الحاول, Jabal Al Hawl, Shabwa, Yemen

Geolocation

14.502728, 47.195511 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Exact location (via Airwars) level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Exact location (via Airwars)

Airwars assessment

A possible US drone or airstrike reportedly targeted alleged AQAP militants in Jabal Al Hawl, overlooking Wadi Amaqin, in the Rawda district of Shabwa, on the morning of April 26th 2020. There were no known associated reports of civilian harm.

Local sources told Marib Today that the strike had targeted AQAP leaders, while 7adramout and @AdenHurra reported that smoke was seen rising from the targeted locations. According to Yaqeen, “local sources said that a drone believed to be American carried out, today, Sunday [April 26th], an air strike targeting leaders of al-Qaeda in the town of Amaqin in the Rawda district, without providing information about the results of the raid.”

Alleged images of the strike location appeared to confirm reporting by 4May that the aircraft had targeted an area of Jabal Amaqin, though that source did not attribute the attack to a particular party.

No known sources gave details on possible casualties.

US Central Command told Airwars that no US military strikes were conducted in Yemen during April 2020. It is, however, possible that an undeclared strike was conducted by the CIA, or as part of a clandestine US military action.

The incident occured in the morning.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)

Sources (16) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (7) [ collapse]

  • No known sources gave information on possible casualties resulting from the strike (@AdenHurra, April 26th 2020)
  • The strike reportedly targeted AQAP leaders in the area (@poYuTYMufvCx2yk, April 26th 2020)

Geolocation notes (5) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention the Wadi or Jabal Amaqin (عماقين), within the Al Rawda (الروضة) district of Shabwa (شبوة) governorate. Research shows the location to be locally known as Jabal Al Hawl (جبل الحاول), located west of both Al Rawda city and Amaqin town. Comparing various audiovisual materials of the location, we have narrowed this strike down to an approximate location at the coordinates: 14.502728, 47.195511.

  • Reports of the incident mention the Wadi or Jabal Amaqin (عماقين), within the Al Rawda (الروضة) district of Shabwa (شبوة) governorate. Research shows the location to be locally known as Jabal Al Hawl (جبل الحاول), located west of both Al Rawda city and Amaqin town. Comparing various audiovisual materials of the location, we have narrowed this strike down to an approximate location.

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

  • General distribution of locations in the vicinity of the strike.

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

  • Close up satellite imagery of the viewpoint with tags and sight markers.

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

  • Satellite imagery of the viewpoint with tags and sight markers, indicating the approximate location of the strike.

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

  • Tagged visual at the time of the strike.

    Imagery:
    @binshafloot

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

According to CENTCOM, there were no US military strikes during April 2020 in Yemen.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)

Sources (16) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr223

Incident date

April 25, 2020

Location

بين الخدراء والنبيق, Al Khudra and Al Nabeeq, Shabwa, Yemen

Geolocation

14.87082, 45.75198 Note: The accuracy of this location is to District level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

District

Airwars assessment

One or more US drone strikes reportedly killed at least six alleged AQAP militants between the towns of Al Khudra and Al Nabeeq, in the Beihan district of Shabwa governorate, on the afternoon of April 25th 2020. There were no known associated reports of civilian harm.

Yemeni tribal and security sources told Associated Press, on April 27th, that two US drone strikes in Beihan had killed at least six AQAP militants “in recent days”. Marib Today reported that three US strikes had been conducted in the area on that afternoon, and were preceded by the presence of US aircraft throughout the morning. However many sources mentioned only one strike.

A single social media post by @no_itsmyturn indicated that a drone strike by an unnamed belligerent had targeted Houthi positions in Beihan on the 25th, though it was not clear if this was the same event.

According to Associated Press, both the CIA and the US military declined to comment on the reported US strikes. US Central Command told Airwars that no US military strikes were conducted in Yemen during April 2020. It is, however, possible that an undeclared strike was conducted by the CIA, or as part of a clandestine US military action.

The incident occured in the afternoon.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected targets
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Other
  • Belligerents reported killed
    6

Sources (18) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (3) [ collapse]

  • Though Twitter user @no_itsmyturn gave this source as evidence for a claim that strikes had targeted Houthi positions in Beihan, the source did not specifically identify the target (@no_itsmyturn, April 25th 2020)

Geolocation notes (2) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention the area between Al Khudra (الخدراء) and Al Nabeeq (النبيق), allegedly in the Beihan (بيحان‎) district of Shabwa (شبوة) governorate. Our research finds evidence of a clinic called Al Wahdah as Sihhiyah al Khadra (الوحدة الصحية الخدراء) and a hill called Jabal Khudra (جبل الخدراء), suggesting that Al Khudra is within the area, however, we find no mention of Al Nabeeq in the vicinity. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for Jabal Khudra are: 14.87082, 45.75198.

  • Reports of the incident mention the area between Al Khudra (الخدراء) and Al Nabeeq (النبيق), allegedly in the Beihan (بيحان‎) district of Shabwa (شبوة) governorate.

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

  • Our research finds evidence of a clinic called Al Wahdah as Sihhiyah al Khadra (الوحدة الصحية الخدراء) and a hill called Jabal Khudra (جبل الخدراء), suggesting that Al Khudra is within their area, however, we find no mention of Al Nabeeq in the vicinity.

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

According to CENTCOM, there were no US military strikes during April 2020 in Yemen.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected targets
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Other
  • Belligerents reported killed
    6

Sources (18) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr222-C

Incident date

April 11, 2020

Location

منزل الشيخ علي بن حسن بن غريب, House of Sheik Ali bin Hassan bin Gharib, Marib, Yemen

Geolocation

15.501357, 45.364845 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Exact location (via Airwars) level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Exact location (via Airwars)

Airwars assessment

According to some sources, a US drone strike targeted alleged AQAP militants in the house of Ali Bin Hassan Bin Gharib, an Islah leader, in Shabwana, in Marib governorate in the early morning of April 11th 2020. However others suggested that a Houthi ballistic missile was responsible. While Bin Gharib was reportedly unharmed, some indicated that the strike resulted in civilian casualties, though no specific details were available.

Bin Gharib is reportedly an elder of the Obeida tribe in Marib, and local sources told Sahaftak that he was a prison official in the governorate. One source, @ahmedhashdy, alleged that he was also an AQAP leader.

Local sources told Al-Masdar Online, YPA Agency, and Sahaftak that the strike had resulted in civilian casualties, partly destroying the house and some neighbouring buildings. Given these reports, Airwars has assessed that at least two civilians were reportedly killed in the event.

Though the first known report of a strike in the area came at 3:42 AM on April 11th – from @AbduMahmoud19, reporting a Houthi ballistic missile strike – several sources, including Al-Masdar Online and Sahaftak, indicated that the strike against Bin Gharib’s house took place on the evening of that day.

Yemeni Information Minister Moammar Al-Eryani, tweeted condemnation of the strike on a “residential area in Marib”, which he attributed to “Iranian-backed Houthi militias”, while a Yemeni military social media feed also suggested that this event was one of two Houthi “ceasefire violations” in the area.

US Central Command told Airwars that no US military strikes were conducted in Yemen during April 2020. It is, however, possible that an undeclared strike was conducted by the CIA, or as part of a clandestine US military action.

The incident occured around dawn.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Artillery, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attackers
    United States Armed Forces, Houthi Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)

Sources (20) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (6) [ collapse]

  • The strike, which was variously alleged to be a US drone raid or Houthi missile attack, reportedly targeted the home of Sheikh Ali Bin Gharib (@tonytohcy, April 12th 2020)

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention a residential building within Ma’rib (مأرب). Conflicting sources claim the building to be located at several sites within a 100m area, for which the generic coordinates are: 15.501357, 45.364845. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

  • Reports of the incident mention a residential building within Ma’rib (مأرب). Conflicting sources claim the building to be located at several sites within a 100m area.

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

According to CENTCOM, there were no US military strikes during April 2020 in Yemen.

Houthi Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Houthi Forces
  • Houthi Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Artillery, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attackers
    United States Armed Forces, Houthi Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)

Sources (20) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr221

Incident date

January 29, 2020

Location

الحصن المشرف, Al Hosson Al Mashrif, Al Bayda, Yemen

Geolocation

14.79646, 45.04077 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Neighbourhood/area

Airwars assessment

A US drone strike reportedly killed AQAP leaders Qasim Al-Raymi and Abu Al-Baraa Al-Ibbi as they travelled in a car through Yakla, Bayda governorate, on January 29th 2020. This was one of three alleged January strikes in which Qasim al-Raymi was reportedly killed – with his death in one of those actions later confirmed by both the US government and AQAP. There were no known associated reports of civilian harm.

A source “familiar with AQAP’s operations inside Yemen” and a local security source told Al-Masdar Online that Al-Raymi had been killed in this strike. Local residents told Al-Masdar that the attack took place in the village of Al-Hosson Al-Mashrif, and that AQAP militants had then prevented local media and activists from accessing the site.

Similarly, according to reports in The Yemen and 4May, sources told Okaz News that Al-Raymi and Al-Ibbi were killed by the strike at noon, as they arrived at a site controlled by AQAP. The original Okaz article could not be found by Airwars.

Responding to local reports, academic Dr Elisabeth Kendall noted that Al-Ibbi was an “articulate and active” AQAP jurist.

Throughout late January and early February 2020, numerous local-language and English-language sources reported that al-Raymi had been killed by a US strike at the end of January. These variously indicated that he was killed by one of two alleged strikes in the Wadi Obeida, Marib, on January 25th (USYEMTr218) or January 27th (USYEMTr219-C); or by this alleged strike in Bayda on January 29th.

Given that the first known reports of al-Raymi’s death also emerged on January 29th, post-dating the alleged strikes in which he was reported to have died, it was impossible to reasonably exclude the possibility that he died in any of these three reported incidents.

On February 6th, a White House statement confirmed that al-Raymi had been killed by a January strike, but did not specify where or when he had died. “This was not a [Department of Defense] operation”, a US Pentagon official told Politico.  A former US official told Foreign Policy that the strike was conducted by a CIA aircraft.

US Central Command told Airwars that no US military strikes were conducted in Yemen during January 2020, effectively confirming that the strike that killed Al-Raymi was a CIA operation.

Al-Raymi had been the leader of AQAP since 2015, having been a founding member of the group in 2006.  On February 23rd 2020, AQAP confirmed that al-Raymi had died, and announced Khalid Batarfi as its new leader, according to Dr Elisabeth Kendall (@Dr_E_Kendall).

The incident occured around midday.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2

Sources (52) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (21) [ collapse]

  • Qasim al-Raymi, the leader of AQAP, was alleged to have been killed in the strike (@Rita_Katz, January 30th 2020)
  • The strike was one of three alleged US actions in January which reportedly killed Al-Raymi (@NATSEC09, January 31st 2020)
  • The US State Department had previously offered $10 million for information leading to Al-Raymi's capture (New York Times, January 31st 2020)
  • On February 1st, an apparently pre-recorded message from Al-Raymi claimed responsibility for the December 2019 Pensacola naval base shooting (@Dr_E_Kendall, February 1st 2020)
  • In a tweet, academic Dr Elisabeth Kendall pointed out that a February 1st video of Al-Raymi omitted "the usual "May Allah protect him"... which would have shown he's alive" (@Dr_E_Kendall, February 2nd 2020)
  • Al-Raymi had been leader of AQAP since 2015, after his predecessor was killed by a US drone strike (@englishsssn, January 31st 2020)
  • Al-Raymi was confirmed to have been killed by the White House on February 6th 2020 (BBC Monitoring, January 31st 2020)
  • On February 23rd, AQAP confirmed the death of Al-Raymi, announcing Khalid Batarfi as his successor (@Dr_E_Kendall, February 23rd 2020)
  • Khalid Batarfi, Al-Raymi's successor as AQAP leader (@Dr_E_Kendall, February 23rd 2020)
  • Al-Raymi, born in 1978, was a founding member of AQAP (BBC Arabic, February 7th 2020)
  • In 2017, Al-Raymi said that lone shooter attacks brought him joy (Long War Journal, February 6th 2020)
  • Al-Raymi (right), alongside Pensacola shooter Muhammed bin Saeed Al-Shamrani (Long War Journal, February 6th 2020)
  • (@Saad_Binmuad, January 29th 2020)

Geolocation notes (2) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention the village of Al Hosson Al Mashrif (الحصن المشرف), allegedly within the vicinity of Yakla (يكلاء). One source, @JoshuaKoontz__, suggests the area of Wadi Al Mashrif (وادي المشيريف) as a potential location for this village, approximately 33KM north of Yakla. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for Wadi Al Mashrif are: 14.79646, 45.04077

  • Reports of the incident mention the village of Al Hosson Al Mashrif (الحصن المشرف), allegedly within vicinity of Yakla (يكلاء).

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

  • One source, @JoshuaKoontz__, suggests the area of Wadi Al Mashrif (وادي المشيريف) as a potential location for this village, approximately 33KM north of Yakla.

    Imagery:
    @JoshuaKoontz__

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

At the direction of President Donald J. Trump, the United States conducted a counterterrorism operation in Yemen that successfully eliminated Qasim al-Rimi, a founder and the leader of al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and a deputy to al-Qa’ida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. Rimi joined al-Qa’ida in the 1990s, working in Afghanistan for Osama bin Laden. Under Rimi, AQAP committed unconscionable violence against civilians in Yemen and sought to conduct and inspire numerous attacks against the United States and our forces. 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. The United States, our interests, and our allies are safer as a result of his death. We will continue to protect the American people by tracking down and eliminating terrorists who seek to do us harm.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2

Sources (52) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr219-C

Incident date

January 27, 2020

Location

لحزمة, Al Hazma, Ma'rib, Yemen

Geolocation

15.56667, 45.38333 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

A US drone strike reportedly targeted an alleged AQAP site in Al Hazma village, in the Wadi Obeida area of Marib governorate, at dawn on January 27th 2020. Multiple sources suggested that at least one alleged AQAP militant had died in the strike, and one source, Mint Press News, reported that civilians near the house had been killed.  Some sources later indicated that AQAP leader Qasim al-Raymi died in this strike, one of three apparent January US actions in which he was reportedly killed.

At least one missile reportedly targeted a house where an al-Qaeda leader was staying, having rented the house in the previous week. According to Mint Press, the strike, which reportedly involved multiple munitions releases, killed “some innocent civilians” near the house, though no further details were given. Given this, Airwars has assessed that at least two civilians were reportedly killed in the strike, though this allegation has been assessed as weak based on limited reporting.

Ali Hammoud, a farmer who said that one of his relatives was killed in the strike, told Mint Press that “U.S. drones do not differentiate between civilians and al-Qaeda-linked fighters… In the end, you will be killed by plane, whether you are a civilian, or from al-Qaeda. Joining al-Qaeda is what is on my mind now.”

Tribal sources told the Al-Khabar press agency that “communications devices and computers” were found in the building, while other local language media outlets, such as Al-Ain, reported that the house contained a store of missiles and mine-making tools.  Mint Press suggested that explosives in the building continued to detonate in the aftermath of the initial explosion, and that AQAP militants cordoned off the area soon afterwards. According to Yem News, a local resident said that AQAP had been operating in the area “openly” over the prior months. A second reported airstrike on January 27th (USYEMTr220) was said to have targeted AQAP militants in the same area.

Several sources, including @alghadye, suggested that one AQAP militant, a leadership figure, had been killed. Mint Press and others named the dead militant as “Qasilah”, who had reportedly rented the house. According to Al-Khabar press, “Qasilah” had previously been “expelled by the people of the area”.

Similarly, Al-Ain reported that the renter of the house presented himself as “displaced” from central Yemen. Local sources told Al-Masdar Online that this person was named Abdullah Al-Adani, and that a man took his body away in the hours after the strike.  These sources indicated that Al-Adani was “known to be connected to AQAP”. A single social media source (@geHYX4hFs5Df0mP) reported that “a number” of militants had died in the strike.

Some, including Twitter user @AnisAbdulla1, Mint Press, and Aden Gad, indicated that AQAP leader Qasim al-Raymi, also known as Abu-Huraira al-San’ani, may also have been killed in this event, though two local sources denied to Mint Press that this was the case. Given this, Airwars has assessed that at least one alleged militant was killed in the attack, with a maximum of two, to account for reports of Al-Raymi’s death.

Throughout late January and early February 2020, numerous local-language and English-language sources reported that al-Raymi had been killed by a US strike at the end of January. These reports variously indicated that he was killed by one of two alleged strikes in Wadi Obeida, Marib, on January 25th (USYEMTr218) or January 27th; or by an alleged strike in Bayda on January 29th (USYEMTr221).

On February 2nd, Marib governor Sultan al-Arada told Asharq Al-Awsat that two strikes had taken place in Marib in the prior 10-day period, and that security authorities had been unable to identify those killed in either strike. OSINT analyst @RebeccaRambar initially reported that Al-Raymi was killed on the 27th, but later indicated that he was in fact killed in Yakla, Bayda governorate, on January 29th.

Due to the congruence of alleged strike circumstances, several reports of a strike in Marib could not be definitively tied to a particular incident. Numerous local-language news outlets, including Akhbar Al-Aan, reported only that Al-Raymi was killed in a strike against a house in Wadi Obeida, conceivably referring to either of the Marib strikes mentioned above. Similarly, the New York Times reported that two militants were killed by an undated strike in Wadi Obeida, while Al-Arabi Al-Jadeed suggested that “at least four” were killed by a strike in the same area.

One Twitter source, @goldensla, suggested on January 27th that “one of the most wanted” AQAP members in Ataq, Shabwa governorate, had rented a house in Wadi Obeida a week previously. A second tweet from the same source, on January 29th, suggested that Qasim al-Raymi had been reportedly killed in Marib after being seen in Ataq, but did not specify the date of his death. The same source reported on February 2nd that Al-Raymi had died on a farm belonging to the head of the Islah group in Marib, Mabkhoot Obood Al-Sharif.

Given that the first known reports of al-Raymi’s death emerged on January 29th, post-dating all three alleged strikes in which he was reported to have died, it was impossible to reasonably exclude the possibility that he died in any of these three reported events.

On February 6th, a White House statement confirmed that al-Raymi had been killed by a January strike, but did not specify where or when he had died.  “This was not a [Department of Defense] operation”, a US Pentagon official told Politico.  A former US official told Foreign Policy that the strike was conducted by a CIA aircraft.

US Central Command told Airwars that no US military strikes were conducted in Yemen during January 2020, effectively confirming that the strike that killed Al-Raymi was a CIA operation. This event is treated as declared to account for the admission.

Al-Raymi had been the leader of AQAP since 2015, having been a founding member of the group in 2006.  On February 23rd 2020, AQAP confirmed that al-Raymi had died, and announced Khalid Batarfi as its new leader, according to Dr Elisabeth Kendall.

The incident occured around dawn.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1–2

Sources (89) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (29) [ collapse]

  • The January 27th strike reportedly took place in Al-Hazmia, Wadi Obeida (@JoshuaKoontz__, January 28th 2020)
  • The January 27th strike allegedly targeted a house, which was later found to contain weapons and ammunition (@JoshuaKoontz__, January 28th 2020)
  • Qasim al-Raymi, the leader of AQAP, was alleged to have been killed in the strike (@Rita_Katz, January 30th 2020)
  • The strike was one of three alleged US actions in January which reportedly killed Al-Raymi (@NATSEC09, January 31st 2020)
  • Sources initially suggested that an unidentified AQAP leader had been killed in the strike, possibly referring to Al-Raymi (Al-Mashhad Al-Yemeni, February 2nd 2020)
  • A single source, @goldensla, suggested that Al-Raymi was killed in a farm belonging to the head of the Islah group in Marib, though it was unclear whether this referred to this strike (@goldensla, February 2nd 2020)
  • The US State Department had previously offered $10 million for information leading to Al-Raymi's capture (New York Times, January 31st 2020)
  • On February 1st, an apparently pre-recorded message from Al-Raymi claimed responsibility for the December 2019 Pensacola naval base shooting (@Dr_E_Kendall, February 1st 2020)
  • In a tweet, academic Dr Elisabeth Kendall pointed out that a February 1st video of Al-Raymi omitted "the usual "May Allah protect him"... which would have shown he's alive" (@Dr_E_Kendall, February 2nd 2020)
  • On February 23rd, AQAP confirmed the death of Al-Raymi, announcing Khalid Batarfi as his successor (@Dr_E_Kendall, February 23rd 2020)
  • Khalid Batarfi, Al-Raymi's successor as AQAP leader (@Dr_E_Kendall, February 23rd 2020)
  • Al-Raymi had been leader of AQAP since 2015, after his predecessor was killed by a US drone strike (@englishsssn, January 31st 2020)
  • In 2017, Al-Raymi said that lone shooter attacks brought him joy (Long War Journal, February 6th 2020)
  • Al-Raymi was confirmed to have been killed by the White House on February 6th 2020 (BBC Monitoring, January 31st 2020)
  • Al-Raymi (right), alongside Pensacola shooter Muhammed bin Saeed Al-Shamrani (Long War Journal, February 6th 2020)
  • Al-Raymi, born in 1978, was a founding member of AQAP (BBC Arabic, February 7th 2020)
  • (@RebeccaRambar, February 7th 2020)
  • The US Rewards for Justice page, displaying an image of Al-Raymi on January 31st 2020 (@Dr_E_Kendall)
  • (@jibalalyaman8, January 29th 2020)
  • (@RebeccaRambar, February 3rd 2020)

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention the village of Al Hazma (لحزمة), allegedly immediately north-east of the city of Ma’rib (مأرب), within the Wadi Obeida (وادي عبيدة) area. The generic coordinates for Al Hazma are: 15.56667, 45.38333. It is important to note the existence of another Al Hazma, south-east of Ma’rib city, at these coordinates: 15.44646, 45.39902. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

  • Reports of the incident mention the village of Al Hazma (لحزمة), allegedly immediately north-east of the city of Ma’rib (مأرب), within the Wadi Obeida (وادي عبيدة) area. It is important to note the existence of another Al Hazma, south-east of Ma’rib city.

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

At the direction of President Donald J. Trump, the United States conducted a counterterrorism operation in Yemen that successfully eliminated Qasim al-Rimi, a founder and the leader of al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and a deputy to al-Qa’ida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. Rimi joined al-Qa’ida in the 1990s, working in Afghanistan for Osama bin Laden. Under Rimi, AQAP committed unconscionable violence against civilians in Yemen and sought to conduct and inspire numerous attacks against the United States and our forces. 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. The United States, our interests, and our allies are safer as a result of his death. We will continue to protect the American people by tracking down and eliminating terrorists who seek to do us harm.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1–2

Sources (89) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr220

Incident date

January 27, 2020

Location

بن معيلي, Bin Ma'aili Station, Ma'rib, Yemen

Geolocation

15.460829, 45.434440 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Neighbourhood/area

Airwars assessment

A US drone strike reportedly targeted a car transporting six alleged AQAP militants near Bin Ma’ali Station, in Marib governorate, on the morning of January 27th 2020. The strike came alongside a second reported US action (USYEMTr219-C) on January 27th in Al Hazmia, also in Marib. There were no known associated reports of civilian harm.

According to reporting by Al-Khabar Al-Yemeni and Mint Press, the strike targeted the “companions” or “bodyguards” of a local AQAP leader, “Qasilah”, killed in the second January 27th strike. Local tribal leaders and witnesses told Mint Press that “many” were killed and injured.

Given these reports, Airwars has assessed that at least two militants were reportedly killed, and at least two were reportedly injured, in the reported strike.

US Central Command told Airwars that no US military strikes were conducted during January 2020 in Yemen. It is, however, possible that an undeclared strike was conducted by the CIA, or as part of a clandestine US military action.

The incident occured in the morning.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2
  • Belligerents reported injured
    2

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes (2) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention a vehicle being struck in the vicinity of Bi’in Ma’ili (بن معيلي) station, south east of the city of Ma’rib (مأرب). According to one source, @JoshuaKoontz__, and after verifying his claims, we have found two stations on the same street bearing the name Bi’in Maili. One at: 15.464066, 45.439751, and the other at: 15.457613, 45.428775. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates between these two stations are: 15.460829, 45.434440.

  • Reports of the incident mention a vehicle being struck in the vicinity of Bi’in Ma’ili (بن معيلي) station, south east of the city of Ma’rib (مأرب).

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

  • According to one source, @JoshuaKoontz__, and after verifying his claims, we have found two stations on the same street bearing the name Bi’in Maili.

    Imagery:
    @JoshuaKoontz__

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

CENTCOM told Airwars that there were no US military strikes during January 2020 in Yemen. The last declared CENTCOM action was on June 24th 2019 in Al Bayda province.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2
  • Belligerents reported injured
    2

Sources (6) [ collapse]