By Cynthia McFadden, William Arkin and Tracy Connor, NBC:
The Navy SEAL raid in Yemen last week had a secret objective — the head of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, who survived and is now taunting President Donald Trump in an audio message.
Military and intelligence officials told NBC News the goal of the massive operation was to capture or kill Qassim al-Rimi, considered the third most dangerous terrorist in the world and a master recruiter.
But while one SEAL, 14 al Qaeda fighters and some civilians, including an 8-year-old girl, were killed during a firefight, al-Rimi is still alive and in Yemen, multiple military officials said.
On Sunday, al-Rimi — who landed on the United States’ most-wanted terrorist list after taking over al Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate in 2015 — released an audio recording that military sources said is authentic.
“The fool of the White House got slapped at the beginning of his road in your lands,” he said in an apparent reference to the Jan. 29 raid.
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