President Donald Trump’s first covert counterterrorism operation in Yemen turned out to be a disaster.
The strike, carried out without sufficient intelligence, ground support or adequate backup preparations, killed 36-year-old U.S. Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens along with several innocent civilians and children — including an 8-year-old girl who suffered for two hours after being hit by a bullet.
According to the latest reports, the failed operation week had a secret goal: to capture Qassim al-Rimi, the alleged head of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula who is also considered the third-most dangerous terrorist in the world.
Unfortunately, the officials believe he survived the attack. Al-Rimi also released an audio message, which the military officials claim is authentic, to taunt Trump.
“The fool of the White House got slapped at the beginning of his road in your lands,” the master recruiter said in reference to the raid.
Apart from the fact that “valuable Intel” from the Yemen raid may have been 10 years old, what is most worrisome about the operation (delayed for operational reasons after previous defense secretary signed off on it in January) is that the commander-in-chief might have been goaded into launching it.
A senior White House official with direct knowledge of the discussions told NBC that Defense Secretary James Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford told Trump the prospect of taking out al-Rimi was worth the risk — or a “game changer,” as they reportedly put it.
They also told the billionaire, who has no political or military experience whatsoever, that the Obama administration wouldn't have been courageous enough to do it. Considering how vindictive, malicious and insecure Trump appears to be, it is not hard to believe he may have agreed to the raid for that particular reason.
Meanwhile, the White House and the Pentagon appear to be sticking to their stories.
In fact, Pentagon Chief Spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis stated the military “never had any hope, intention or plan” of killing or capturing al-Rimi in the operation.
U.S. Central Command spokesperson Col. John Thomas had something similar to say.
“There was no discussion of al-Rimi potentially being at that objective. We didn't expect to see him there. We didn't plan for him to be there, and this was not a raid that had anything to do with targeting that individual,” he said. “The objective was site exploitation to find out more about how AQAP operates, functions and how they communicate with each other.”
Another senior intelligence official told the network “almost everything went wrong” once the raid got underway. Perhaps the people in the targeted house were alerted to the presence of the raiding force, because as soon as the SEAL team landed on the ground, the firefight started.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters