The self-styled leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has released an audio message taunting President Donald Trump for a raid by US Navy Seals in Yemen which resulted in the deaths of 11 women and children and one US commando.
Qassim al-Rimi, who some sources believe was the target for the raid, said Trump had received a "painful slap across his face".
Trump gave the green light to the Seal mission on 29 January, the first time he has done so since entering the White House. According to the Pentagon the objective was to seize "intelligence" and capture or kill senior AQAP militants, not necessarily including 38-year-old al-Rimi.
The raid went badly wrong when AQAP fighters engaged the US and United Arab Emirates (UAE) troops in a firefight, leading to the death of one Navy Seal commando, William "Ryan" Owens.
One US plane had to be destroyed and 11 women and children were killed, including Nawar Al-Awlaki, the eight-year-old daughter of the late Yemeni radical preacher, Anwar al-Awkali. He was killed in a US drone strike in 2011.
Now al-Rimi – who, as head of AQAP, leads one of the most dangerous terror groups on earth – has released an 11-minute audio message in Arabic which was translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.
In the message, al-Rimi – who took over after the previous AQAP leader, Nasir al-Wuhayshi, was killed in 2015 – claimed scores of Americans died in the raid.
"When the Americans escaped, they dragged their killed and wounded, and they found no other alternative but to destroy their own planes so that it would not be proof of their scandal," al-Rimi was quoted as saying by CNN. "The new fool of the White House received a painful slap across his face."
Medics and human rights groups in Yemen have also claimed up to 23 civilians died in the attack, in which 14 al-Qaeda militants are known to have died.