The Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is urging followers to retaliate against the United States for killing senior leaders of the jihadist group during a recent raid.
According to SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks jihadi activity online, Qasim al-Raymi, leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), compared his terrorist groups to Islamic extremists fighting U.S. troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia in an audio speech.
AQAP Leader States Qifa Raid Exposed America’s “Ugly Face,” Fighter Defense “Slapped” Trump https://t.co/bAhjNtkJrm
— SITE Intel Group (@siteintelgroup) February 4, 2017
“My message to our lions in the battlefield [is] here comes America, stepping on your land with its arrogance and pride,” Raymi said on Saturday, reports the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), citing a translation by SITE. “Remind it with the raids of Mogadishu [in Somalia], the victories of Kandahar [in Afghanistan], and the persistence of Fallujah [in Iraq],” he added.
The AQAP leader also condemned the recent U.S. raid in northern Yemen’s Bayda province, saying it exposed America’s “ugly face” and adding that the defense mounted by jihadis “slapped” the “new fool of the White House” President Donald Trump.
“Burn the land beneath their feet and make them hear the whispers of Satan,” urged the AQAP leader.
On January 28, the U.S. military launched a raid against the al-Qaeda offshoot in Yemen, killing an estimated 14 jihadists.
However, AQAP jihadis also killed U.S. Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens and wounded three other American service members.
Moreover, the U.S. military is reportedly investigating news reports of civilian deaths.
The raid marked the first combat operation under President Trump and the first involving ground troops since 2014, notes the Journal.
Deteriorating security conditions after Iran-allied Shiite Houthis captured the Yemeni capital forced the U.S. troops out of Yemen in early 2015.
The January 28 raid sparked controversy as critics, including members of the previous administration, accused the Trump team of carrying it out without proper military intelligence and planning, an allegation that has been disputed.
Although some media outlets reported that three senior AQAP leaders had been killed in the raid, the AQAP leader said only two top figures — Abdulraoof al-Dhahab and Sultan al-Dhahab — are among the dead.
WSJ notes that the jihadist group has intensified attacks against territory held by the internationally recognized government of Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
AQAP has benefitted from the Saudi-led coalition mainly fighting their rival, the Iran-backed Shiite Houthis.
The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) has also established a presence in war-ravaged Yemen, considered the poorest country in the Middle East.