Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula is a formidable terror group that remains intent on attacking Americans and the U.S. homeland, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, director of Pentagon press operations, told reporters today.
Davis addressed yesterday’s U.S. Special Operations counterterrorism raid that killed seven al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula operatives in Yemen’s Marib governorate, located about 150 miles north of Aden, the country’s capital.
Special Forces raided an al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula compound comprising a few buildings, he said, adding, “[al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula was] using this as a headquarters, a place to meet and plan for external operations and to lead the group.”
First Raid Deep In Yemen
The raid marked the first time the United States conducted an operation into Marib governorate, and the location was the deepest the military has gone into Yemen to fight al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, Davis said.
“The intent of the raid was to disrupt AQAP operations,” he said, noting that “at least” seven al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula militants were killed with small-arms fire and precision airstrikes from an AC-130 gunship.
No civilian casualties were reported, and based on observations on the ground and in the sky, there are no credible indications of such casualties, Davis said.
“AQAP has significant amounts of American blood on its hands,” he said. “It is an organization that has used the ungoverned spaces in Yemen to plot, direct and inspire terrorist attacks against America, our citizens and our allies around the world.”
Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula attacked the U.S. embassy in Sanaa, Yemen, in 2008; attempted to down Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas Day in 2009; and conspired to send explosive-laden parcels to Chicago in 2010, he said.
Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula's English-language magazine, Inspire, also has been used to encourage attacks against the West, Davis said, citing multiple attacks that include the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, the Fort Hood mass shooting in 2009 and other lone-wolf attacks in the United States and Europe.
Yemen Authorized Operation
Yesterday’s raid was conducted under the same U.S. authorities as those granted in advance of the earlier, Jan. 28 raid, which included authorities for airstrikes and follow-on action, he said.
The operation had the support and cooperation of the Yemen government, and was done in conjunction with U.S. partners, the spokesman said.
“We will continue to support Yemen in bringing stability to the region by fighting known terrorist organizations like AQAP,” Davis said.
(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)