Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

USYEMTr218

Incident date

January 25, 2020

Location

جو النسيم, Joe Al Naseem, Marib, Yemen

Geolocation

15.480000, 45.349444 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

A US drone strike reportedly targeted a house in Joe Al Naseem, in the Wadi Obeida area of Marib governorate, at 11am on January 25th 2020, killing at least one alleged AQAP leadership figure. Some sources later indicated that AQAP leader Qasim al-Raymi died in the strike, one of three alleged January US actions in which he was supposedly killed. There were no known reports of associated civilian harm.

Fatima Alasrar (@YemeniFatima) reported that, according to Marib residents, the strike had “successfully targeted” the alleged AQAP member in his home, causing “no collateral damage”. Al-Masdar Online alone specified the time and location of the strike, at 11am in Joe Al Naseem area, suggesting that one unidentified AQAP militant was killed. Yemeni tribal sources told the Associated Press that AQAP militants cordoned off the area in the aftermath of the strike.

Several sources suggested that AQAP leader Qasim al-Raymi, also known as Abu-Huraira al-San’ani, was killed in the strike. Analyst Rita Katz (@Rita_Katz) tweeted on January 30th that al-Raymi was killed in the January 25th strike. On February 1st, The Guardian and others reported, US President Trump retweeted Rita Katz’s thread, appearing to confirm the report. OSINT analyst @carvajalF tweeted on January 30th that they had seen obituaries for Qasim al-Raymi, dated January 25th 2020.

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. However, these reports variously indicated that he was killed by one of two alleged strikes in Wadi Obeida, Marib, on January 25th or January 27th (USYEMTr219-C); or by a strike in Bayda on January 29th (USYEMTr221). The alleged January 27th strike also targeted a building housing a leadership figure. 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.

Due to the congruence of alleged strike circumstances, several reports of a strike in Marib could not be definitively tied to a particular incident. Multiple local news outlets, such as Akhbar Al-Aan, reported only that Al-Raymi was killed by a strike in Wadi Obeida, conceivably referring to either of the Marib strikes mentioned above.

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 al-Raymi had reportedly been 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.

Similarly, the New York Times reported that two 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. Local sources told Al-Arabiya that a US plane had targeted a house, rented by AQAP militants a week previously, on the Friday evening [January 24th]. That report therefore conceivably refers to the night of January 24th-25th. In any case, the sources further stated that “it was not yet clear whether Qasim al-Rimi was among those targeted”. The original Al-Arabiya report could not be found by Airwars.

Additionally, given that the first known reports of al-Raymi’s death emerged on January 29th, post-dating the 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. Given the possibility that Qasim al-Raymi did die in this specific event, potentially in addition to the original one reported fatality, Airwars has assessed that between one and two alleged militants reportedly died in this event.

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.

The incident occured at 11:00 am local time.

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
    1–2

Sources (75) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (25) [ collapse]

  • Qasim al-Raymi, the leader of AQAP, was alleged to have been killed in the strike (@Rita_Katz, January 30th 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)
  • The strike was one of three alleged US actions in January which reportedly killed Al-Raymi (@NATSEC09, January 31st 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)
  • Al-Raymi had been leader of AQAP since 2015, after his predecessor was killed by a US drone strike (@englishsssn, 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 was confirmed to have been killed by the White House on February 6th 2020 (BBC Monitoring, January 31st 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)
  • Al-Raymi, born in 1978, was a founding member of AQAP (BBC Arabic, February 7th 2020)
  • (@Saad_Binmuad, January 29th 2020)
  • (@NewsyemenS, February 1st 2020)

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention a residential building being struck in Joe Al Naseem (جو النسيم) village, for which the generic coordinates are: 15.480000, 45.349444. 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

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
    1–2

Sources (75) [ collapse]