Qasim al-Rimi was named emir of AQAP in June 2015, immediately after he swore allegiance to al-Qa’ida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri and called for renewed attacks against the United States. Al-Rimi trained terrorists at an al-Qa’ida camp in Afghanistan in the 1990’s, and subsequently returned to Yemen and became an AQAP military commander. He was sentenced to five years in prison in 2005 in Yemen of plotting to assassinate the U.S. Ambassador to Yemen, and escaped in 2006. Al-Rimi has been linked to the September 2008 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Sana’a that left 10 Yemeni guards, four civilians, and six terrorists dead. Al-Rimi is also linked to the December 2009 attempted suicide bombing of “underwear bomber” Umar Farouq Abdulmutallab aboard a U.S.-bound airliner. In 2009, the Yemeni government accused him of running an al-Qa’ida training camp in Yemen’s Abyan province.
On February 5, 2017, al-Rimi released an audiotape in which he threatened U.S. President Donald Trump. In a May 7, 2017 video, he urged supporters living in Western countries to conduct “easy and simple” attacks and praised Omar Mateen, who killed 49 people in a June 2016 mass shooting at a nightclub in Orlando Florida.
In May 2010, the Department of State designated al-Rimi as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order 13224. In May 2010 al-Rimi was added to the United Nations (UN) 1267 Sanctions Committee’s Consolidated List of individuals associated with al Qa’ida/ISIL. The initial $5 million reward offer for al-Rimi was announced on October 14, 2014.