A member of the Navy's elite SEAL Team Six was killed during a Jan. 28 counter-terrorism raid in Yemen.
According to the Pentagon, three other personnel were wounded and two suffered injuries when a V-22 Osprey made a hard landing during the mission that targeted al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The unflyable tiltrotor was destroyed after all personnel on board were rescued.
The SEAL who died was identified as Chief Petty Officer William "Ryan" Owens, 36, of Peoria, Illinois. The names of the wounded SEALs have not yet been released.
Heavily-armed bodyguards from SEAL Team 6 provide close protection for Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Image: Wikimedia
Fourteen members of the terrorist group were killed during the covert assault, the Pentagon said. News reports indicate the SEALs also killed a relative of Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born cleric who preached at a mosque attended by some of the 9/11 hijackers and who was also involved in the 2009 Fort Hood shooting and the attempt to bring down an airliner with an underwear bomb on Christmas Day 2009.
The New York Times reported that MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicles and helicopter gunships provided cover for the raid. An Air Force fact sheet notes that the MQ-9 Reaper is capable of carrying the GBU-12 laser-guided bomb, the AGM-114 Hellfire missile, and the GBU-38 GPS-guided Joint Direct Attack Munition.
Operators from a west-coast based Navy SEAL team participated in infiltration and exfiltration training as part of Northern Edge 2009 June 15, 2009. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo/Lance Cpl. Ryan Rholes)
"In a successful raid against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula headquarters, brave U.S. forces were instrumental in killing an estimated 14 AQAP members and capturing important intelligence that will assist the U.S. in preventing terrorism against its citizens and people around the world," President Donald Trump said in a statement released on the attack.
"Americans are saddened this morning with news that a life of a heroic service member has been taken in our fight against the evil of radical Islamic terrorism," he added. "The sacrifices made by the men and women of our armed forces, and the families they leave behind, are the backbone of the liberty we hold so dear as Americans, united in our pursuit of a safer nation and a freer world."
A Marine Corps MV-22 lands in the desert. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Brandon Maldonado)
A statement by United States Central Command noted, "The operation resulted in an estimated 14 AQAP members being killed and the capture of information that will likely provide insight into the planning of future terror plots."
"This is one in a series of aggressive moves against terrorist planners in Yemen and worldwide. Similar operations have produced intelligence on al-Qa'ida logistics, recruiting and financing efforts," CENTCOM added.