Today saw President Trump perform one of the saddest duties of any American President. In an announcement this morning, Mr. Trump said: “Americans are saddened this morning with news that a life of a heroic service member has been taken in our fight against the evil of radical Islamic terrorism. The sacrifices made by the men and women of our armed forces, and the families they leave behind, are the backbone of the liberty we hold so dear as Americans, united in our pursuit of a safer nation and a freer world.”
Word of the losses was followed shortly by a statement from the Commander of the U.S. Central Command, General Joseph Votel who said: “We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of our elite service members. The sacrifices are very profound in our fight against terrorists who threaten innocent peoples across the globe.”
The SEAL Team Six member was killed and three others were wounded as they carried out a raid aimed at taking out senior Al Qaeda leaders in central Yemen, officials said. The raid resulted in the deaths of at least 14 terrorist fighters from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula during the assault. Pentagon sources said that in addition, U.S. service members captured “information that will likely provide insight into the planning of future terror plots.”
In addition, the U.S. Central Command said in another statement Sunday that one service member was injured in a “hard landing” in a nearby location. That incident involved an MV-22 Osprey aircraft used in the raid, it was deemed unable to fly and “was then intentionally destroyed in place.”
The SEAL raid was the first counter-terrorism offensive under President Trump aimed at gathering intelligence about the militant group. It was also the first combat death under the new administration. A U.S. official said planing for the operation began before Trump assumed office, but had not been given the green light under the Obama administration.
Although the SEAL unit took no prisoners from the site of the attack, Yemeni security and tribal officials said the raid killed three senior Al Qaeda leaders in addition to the 14 fighters. Yemeni officials told reporters the surprise dawn attack killed Abdul-Raouf al-Dhahab, Sultan al-Dhahab, and Seif al-Nims. The al-Dhahab family is considered an ally of Al Qaeda, which security forces say is concentrated in Bayda province. A third family member, Tarek al-Dhahab, was killed in a previous U.S. drone strike years ago. It was not immediately clear whether the family members were actual members of Al Qaeda.
Just over a week ago, suspected U.S. drone strikes killed three other alleged Al Qaeda operatives in Bayda province in what was the first-such killings reported in the country since Mr. Trump assumed the U.S. Presidency. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, has long been seen by military leaders as among the most dangerous branches of the global terror network. The group has exploited the chaos of Yemen’s civil war, to seize territory in the south and east.
During the Obama administration, the group was responsible for sending a 23-year old Nigerian on Christmas Day in 2009, dubbed the “underwear bomber,” to try and blow up a US airline flying from Amsterdam to Detroit.
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