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On February 23, 2020, Al-Malahem, the official media outlet of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), confirmed the death of the group's leader, Qasim Al-Rimi, and announced that he was succeeded by AQAP commander Khalid Batarfi. The 16-minute video, which features an audio message delivered by Saudi-born religious official Hamad bin Hamoud Al-Tamimi, was published on AQAP's Rocket.Chat channel. According to earlier media reports, Al-Rimi was killed in a January 25, 2020, drone strike in Yemen's Al-Bayda' Governorate. On February 1, 2020, U.S. President Donald Trump forwarded a Tweet reporting that Al-Rimi had been killed, and on February 6, the White House confirmed the death in an official statement.
The above is Al-Malahem's announcement of a message from Sheikh Hamad Al-Tamimi confirming the death of AQAP leader Qasim Al-Rimi; the man shown with his profile obscured is presumably Al-Tamimi.
"While His Loss Saddens Us, We Are Gladdened That He Attained What He Had Wished For Himself"
In the announcement, Al-Tamimi confirms that Al-Rimi was killed in a U.S. drone strike, and states that despite the danger of further drone strikes, the largest possible number of members of AQAP's Shura committee assembled and selected Khalid Batarfi to succeed Al-Rimi as leader of the Al-Qaeda affiliate. Al-Tamimi states that "while his loss saddens us, we are gladdened that he attained what he had wished for himself, what we all wish for ourselves, and what every sincere mujahid wishes from the virtues of that rank [martyrdom]."
Praising Al-Rimi for his devotion and sacrifice for the cause of jihad, Al-Tamimi says that he left his mark on the jihadi effort in many countries where he was present as a "founder, participant, and inciter." The AQAP cleric says that Al-Rimi "passed away – may Allah have mercy on him – as the dawn of victory and ease was about to rise, leaving behind him a black night of suffering and sorrow. He did not pass away until he took part in laying the bricks for this coming victory, with his paths, support, meetings, and speeches." Al-Tamimi claims that Al-Rimi "was martyred – may Allah have mercy on him – while endangering his life to meet with a group of his mujahideen brethren in the field."
Next, Al-Tamimi provides a brief biography of Al-Rimi, saying that he was one of the Arab mujahideen who traveled to Afghanistan in the '90s to participate in the jihad there, and helped train other mujahideen in that country's training camps. After the "blessed operations of September 11," and the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, he "participated in repelling the Crusader attack on Afghanistan" until he was forced to leave the country, together with other foreigners, and went back to the Arabian Peninsula. Upon his return, he worked to organize the mujahideen in Yemen and to "work against the Americans and Crusaders." He was arrested while attempting to meet with other mujahideen and imprisoned in Yemen for several years but managed to escape in February 2006 together with 22 other mujahideen. Al-Rimi was one of the founders of AQAP, together with Nasir Al-Wuhayshi, aka Abu Basir, the first leader of AQAP. According to Al-Tamimi, Al-Rimi led the AQAP fighters militarily throughout Al-Wuhayshi's lifetime, often taking his place when Al-Wuhayshi was absent. The AQAP cleric states that Al-Rimi "organized internal and external military work against the Americans and their collaborators from the Saudi and Yemeni governments, as well as the Houthi collaborators with Iran." Al-Rimi organized many "special operations" against American and other targets and was responsible for the work of "security cells" targeting alleged spies.
Jihad Against The West Is "[An] Obligation Which Cannot Be Avoided"
Al-Tamimi says that Al-Rimi viewed attacking "America and the Crusader West" as an "obligation which cannot be avoided," since "it is America which leads the Crusader war and campaign against the Muslims, which supports the Jews in harming our brethren in Palestine, which supports its collaborators and tyrants in Islamic lands in holding sway over the necks of the Muslims, and which endeavors to bury alive any Islamic project which arises to restore glory and eminence to Islam and its adherents." Al-Rimi established several training camps for the mujahideen and personally supervised fighters' training in Afghanistan and Yemen. After Al-Wuhayshi's death in a U.S. drone strike in June 2015, Al-Rimi became leader of AQAP and worked to fight against AQAP's many enemies in Yemen, such as "the forces of the so-called [Saudi-backed] Arab Coalition, its branches, the [UAE-backed] Elite and [Security] Belt forces, such as the falsely named Legitimate Government, as well as the Houthis and the Khawarij [a pejorative reference to ISIS]." Al-Tamimi praises Al-Rimi for his good character, saying that he was loved by all who encountered him and was content to live simply.
Declaring that the mujahideen are accustomed to having their leaders and commanders killed, he says: "This is something to which we have reconciled ourselves and it will not affect the path to victory […], much less harm us, weaken our resolve, or discourage us." He declares that Al-Rimi's death will not defeat AQAP, "for the fate of our religion and jihad is not tied to or dependent on individuals."
"Just As The Americans Killed Some Of Us, We Killed Some Of Them At The Pensacola Base In The State Of Florida"
The AQAP cleric mentions that Al-Rimi's last message was in a video released by AQAP on February 3, 2020, claiming the group had been responsible for the December 6, 2019, attack at the U.S. Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida, in which three U.S. Navy sailors were killed. Al-Tamimi says: "When we mention the news of the martyr's martyrdom, we are gladdened that he ended his life and his journey of jihad with tidings to our Islamic ummah of targeting the enemy in his very home. He did not leave the world until he had harmed his enemy as he was harmed." Al-Tamimi concludes: "So just as the Americans killed some of us, we killed some of them at the Pensacola base in the state of Florida, and just as they wounded some of us, we wounded some of them. But they are not equal, for our slain are in paradise and their slain are in Hellfire. Our slain love death and their slain see being killed as a calamity."
The above excerpt from a message by Al-Rimi claiming responsibility for the attack at the U.S. Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida was shown in the Al-Malahem video.
 Rocket.Chat, February 23, 2020.
 Nytimes.com, January 31, 2020.
 Twitter.com/realDonaldTrump, February 1, 2020; Whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/statement-from-the-president-13/, February 6, 2020.