US Service Member Killed in SEAL Raid on Al-Qaeda in Yemen – ABC News
One U.S. service member was killed and three others were injured in Yemen during a raid Saturday by Navy SEALs targeting al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s senior leadership, officials said today.
The operation, which officials said was launched by the elite counterterrorism unit SEAL Team Six, was the first carried out with the direct approval of President Trump and resulted in 14 al-Qaeda operatives killed, officials said.
AQAP in a statement claimed 30 civilians were killed in the American raid and showed photos of purported victims — including the bloodied remains of a girl the terrorist group said was the 8-year-old daughter of firebrand imam Anwar al-Awlaki, AQAP’s American former leader in charge of plots against the country of his birth.
Awlaki was killed by CIA drone-fired missiles in 2011. His U.S.-born and raised son Abdulrahman, 16, was killed two weeks later in a controversial U.S. drone strike.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” without commenting on the claim of killing civilians or Awlaki’s daughter, said the operation was a blow to AQAP’s efforts to attack the United States.
“They got 14 individuals. They killed 14 individuals and captured a whole host of information about future plots that’s going to benefit this country and keep us safe,” he said.
“We mourn for the loss of life of the service member who so bravely fought for this country and was killed,” Spicer said, adding that, “the President was informed throughout the evening of the situation. He extends his condolences. But more importantly, he understands the fight that our servicemen and women conduct on a daily basis to keep this country safe.”
“This is one in a series of aggressive moves against terrorist planners in Yemen and worldwide,” the U.S. military’s Central Command said in a statement.
A counterterrorism official told ABC News that the Navy’s SEAL Team Six, formally known as Naval Special Warfare Development Group, engaged in a gunfight at the site of the rare ground force raid in the al-Bayda region of Yemen, and that special operations targeting top AQAP leaders including top “emir” Qassim al-Raymi are continuing.
One operator was killed in action and three others were injured critically, officials said. The name of the service member killed in action is being withheld pending notification of next of kin, CENTCOM said.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of our elite service members,” Commander of U.S. Central Command Gen. Joseph Votel said in a statement. “The sacrifices are very profound in our fight against terrorists who threaten innocent peoples across the globe.”
In addition, the U.S. lost an MV-22 Osprey aircraft after it suffered a hard landing that rendered it incapable of taking off again, Spicer confirmed on “this Week.” The aircraft was destroyed by U.S. forces on the spot.
AQAP posted a photo of a young girl on blankets prepared for burial, with a clenched bloody hand, who they claimed was Awlaki’s 8-year-old daughter killed in the American raid Saturday. They also denied losing any armed operatives.
“No Al-Qaedah members were killed in the US raid in Yakla’. Only women and children were killed in the raid together with some tribal leaders who have no connections to Al-Qaedah,” the group said in a message distributed through the encrypted phone app Telegram, according to the SITE Intelligence Group. “Only civilians were killed, mainly children, including the daughter of Shaykh Anwar Al-Awlaki. May Allah accept them, and may Allah hasten his revenge.”
ABC News’ Luis Martinez contributed to this report.
This story has been updated.