Designations of Al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) Leaders Qasim al-Rimi and Nayif al-Qahtani

Source: Norman S. Miwambo

The US Secretary of State has designated al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) leaders Qasim al-Rimi and Nayif al-Qahtani under E.O. 13224, which targets terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism. According to a release today [Tuesday, May 11, 2010], by Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Public Affairs, Philip J. Crowley, al-Rimi and al-Qahtani were also added to the United Nations (UN) 1267 Sanctions Committee's Consolidated List of individuals associated with al Qa'ida and the Taliban. These actions will help stem the flow of finances to al-Rimi and al-Qahtani.

Qasim al-Rimi is AQAP's senior military commander. Al-Rimi has played a key role in reviving the regional node of al-Qa'ida. In 2007, he and AQAP Emir Nasir al-Wahishi announced the emergence of al-Qa'ida in Yemen (AQY)—AQAP's predecessor group. In addition to his activities as AQAP's senior military commander, al-Rimi has played an important role in recruiting the current generation of militants making up the Yemen-based AQAP.

Nayif Al-Qahtani's main role within AQAP is to serve as a liaison between AQ cells in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. He also manages AQAP operations in Yemen and receives financial support from abroad to supply attacks against targets in both Yemen and Saudi Arabia. In addition to planning, financing, and overseeing terrorist attacks in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, some of which have targeted U.S. interests in the Arabian Peninsula, al-Qahtani also serves as a key spokesperson for AQAP.

As we learned on December 25th of last year, AQAP is also working to target Americans at home, so these designations represent just one element of the United States Government's response to the threat posed by AQAP and its senior leaders. In addition, the United Nations 1267 Committee took similar action today by listing al-Rimi, and al-Qahtani, which will require all UN Member States to implement an assets freeze, a travel ban, and an arms embargo against these individuals. The actions taken today against AQAP leadership support the U.S. effort to degrade the capabilities of this group. We are determined to eliminate AQAP's ability to execute violent attacks and to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat their networks.

“Today's designations of Qasim al-Rimi and Nayif al-Qahtani directly respond to the threats posed to the United States—and U.S. interests in the Arabian Peninsula—by AQAP and its senior leaders,” said Ambassador Daniel Benjamin, the Department of State's Coordinator for Counterterrorism. “These cases illustrate our determination to pursue AQAP and undermine AQAP senior leaders' planning and coordination capabilities.”