Strike in Yemen missed al Qaeda leader: report

President Trump’s first counter-terrorism offensive missed its primary target, according to a new report from NBC Nightly News.

Military and intelligence officials told NBC that the Jan. 29 raid in Yemen was aimed at taking out Qassim al-Rimi, an al Qaeda recruiter and one of the most sought after terrorists in the world.

The operation’s main goal failed, however, and NBC has obtained an audio tape it says military sources have authenticated of al-Rimi taunting Trump in the aftermath of the offensive.


"The fool of the White House got slapped at the beginning of his road in your lands," al-Rimi allegedly says in the recording.

It is unclear whether al-Rimi was at the compound at the time of the U.S. strike and escaped, or whether he was somewhere else altogether.

The raid in Yemen has become a flashpoint of controversy.

Chief Special Warfare Operator William "Ryan" Owens, 36, a Navy SEAL was killed in the strike and four other service members were injured.

U.S. Central Command has said that more than a dozen terrorists were also killed, and that intelligence gathered from the raid “will likely provide insight into the planning of future terror plots."

However, Centcom acknowledged “regrettably that civilian non-combatants were likely killed.”

There are reports that these number as high as two-dozen and include women and children.

Media reports of the raid describe a chaotic scene in which U.S. service members assaulted a heavily guarded compound. Some have indicated that al Qaeda operatives there were tipped off to the raid ahead of time.

Reuters cited U.S. military officials in a report claiming that the operation was approved without sufficient intelligence, ground support or adequate backup operations.

The White House has pushed back strenuously against those reports, providing a detailed timeline of the weeks-long vetting and preparation that took place in advance of the raid.

The Trump administration has noted that planning for the strike began at least in early November, when President Obama was still in the White House.