National Security

U.S. Puts $15 Million Bounty on Heads of al Qaeda Leaders

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The Trump administration announced on Thursday it is willing to pay up to $15 million for information leading to the capture of two senior al Qaeda leaders organizing terrorist operations across the Middle East.

The State Department has placed a $5 million bounty of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, senior regional leader Khalid Saeed al-Batarfi and a $10 million bounty on AQAP leader Qasim al-Rimi.

The rewards are paid out for information leading to the identification, location, arrest, and conviction of the two leaders.

Al-Rimi took the reins as AQAP's leader in June 2015, when he swore allegiance to al Qaeda head Ayman al-Zawairi "and called for renewed attacks against the United States," according to the State Department.

Al-Rimi is responsible for organizing an assassination plot on the U.S. ambassador to Yemen, which led to his arrest and subsequent escape from prison in 2006.

"Al-Rimi is linked to the September 2008 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Sana'a that left 10 Yemeni guards, four civilians, and six terrorists dead, and the December 2009 attempted suicide bombing by ‘underwear bomber' Umar Farouq Abdulmutallab aboard a U.S.-bound airliner," according to the State Department.

Al-Rimi appeared on the public radar in May 2017, when he released a video urging al Qaeda supporters "living in Western countries to conduct ‘easy and simple' attacks and praised Omar Mateen, who killed 49 people in a June 2016 mass shooting at a nightclub in Orlando Florida," according to the State Department.

Al-Batarfi also has been linked to al Qaeda terrorist plots in Yemen.

"Following the death of AQAP leader Nasir Al-Wuhayshi in a June 2016 U.S. military strike, he issued a statement warning that al Qaeda would destroy the U.S. economy and attack other U.S. interests," according to the State Department.

He also publicly threatened the United States and Jews across the globe after the Trump administration moved the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.