Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula

Gulf of Aden Security Review – October 16, 2014

Posted on Updated on

Original caption:Iraqi Police discovered this ...
Original caption:Iraqi Police discovered this improvised explosive device Nov. 7 (2005) in eastern Baghdad and disarmed it before it could be detonated in a terrorist attack. Army photo. The IED comprises 4 large artillery shells plus an anti-tank mine, all connected together via detonating cord. This would cause the 5 devices to detonate simultaneously. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yemen: Ansar al Sharia militants target al Houthis in Ibb and al Bayda; AQAP militants attack military checkpoint in Hadramawt; tribes protest al Houthi control in Ibb

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants detonate fourth VBIED in Mogadishu in as many days; al Shabaab militants ambush AMISOM forces in Lower Shabelle and Banadir regions; unidentified assailants target Mandera governor’s convoy with IED in Kenya’s North Eastern Province

Yemen Security Brief

  • Ansar al Sharia temporarily seized control of Udain, Ibb on October 16, killing five policemen and setting fire to multiple government buildings before withdrawing from the city. The group later claimed the attack was an attempt to thwart al Houthi control over the city. Separately, al Houthi gunmen continued to clash with AQAP militants in Rada’a, al Bayda, west of Ibb, on October 16, resulting in the deaths of 12 people.[1] Read the rest of this entry »

Al Qaeda strengthens in Yemen, as officials say significant presence in six provinces

Posted on Updated on

Clip_image001

FILE: Jan. 24, 2009. The leader of al Qaeda in Yemen, Nasser al-Wahaishi, second from right, is surrounded by deputies in an Internet video. (Reuters)

By Catherine Herridge , June 08, 2012

Hundreds of hardcore Al Qaeda fighters are believed to be occupying the southern and eastern regions of Yemen in an effort to expand a safe haven and strengthen forces, U.S. officials familiar with the situation tell Fox News.

The officials described the threat to the U.S. as consistent and persistent.

“We work on the assumption that  (Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) is coming after America every day,” the officials said. These are “extremists who joined a violent death cult. Their goal is to martyr themselves.”

They also said Al Qaeda has been able to leverage the Arab Spring movement in which Arab citizens revolted against governments in Egypt, Libya and elsewhere, making sizeable gains since March of 2011. 

U.S. officials say there is now a significant presence in six Yemen provinces, centered around Abyan in the south and compared to three provinces a year ago.

In recent weeks, the Yemeni military has been able to bring the group’s expansion to a temporary halt. U.S. officials described this development as positive news.

The officials also said Saudi-born Ibrahim al-Asiri is the top bomb technician and that he is actively training replacements. They said the training is to avoid “a single point of failure” should he be taken out.

Fox News was told that four significant plots, including two targeting the U.S. airline and cargo industry, were developed in the group’s safe haven. Read the rest of this entry »

Yemen Crisis Situation Reports: Update 138

Posted on Updated on

The unfolding terrorist plot is a reminder that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has a sanctuary in Yemen, remains determined to attack the United States. Though targeted strikes have killed key AQAP leaders, the strikes have not fully disrupted its external operations. AQAP has benefitted from the successes of its insurgent arm, Ansar al Sharia, which is fighting to regain control of territory in the south.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) attempted to attack the United States. U.S. officials reported that a plot to detonate a bomb aboard a U.S.-bound airplane has been thwarted. The explosive device, seized in the last ten days outside of Yemen, is a more sophisticated version of the 2009 underwear bomb built by AQAP’s top bomb maker, Ibrahim al Asiri. Authorities allegedly detected the plot in April.

Ansar al Sharia militants are contesting the Yemeni military’s control of territory in Abyan governorate, despite reports that Yemeni troops had secured areas of Zinjibar. Militants attacked an army base southwest of Zinjibar Monday morning, killing at least 20 Yemeni soldiers and injuring dozens more. The militants also captured over two dozen troops. Two months ago, an attack killed over 100 soldiers. Last Thursday, Ansar al Sharia attacked a Yemeni military position near Bajdar, outside of Zinjibar. Clashes are also occurring outside of Lawder in Abyan, where militants continue to attack Yemeni army positions.

An airstrike reportedly killed AQAP operative Fahd al Quso Sunday. Quso, who was connected to the USS Cole bombing, was killed in Wadi Rafad in Shabwah governorate along with his companion, Nasser Lakdam. Ansar al Sharia confirmed Quso’s death. Popular Resistance Committees of civilian pro-government fighters reportedly killed AQAP member Bassam al Sayed in the Radfan area of Lahij governorate on May 7. Yemeni airstrikes have targeted militant positions in Lawder in Abyan governorate, killing five militants Saturday. Airstrikes also reportedly targeted militant positions Jaar on May 2 and in Mudia in Abyan on April 26.

Read the rest of this entry »

A Post-Mortem Analysis of AQAP Tribal Implementer Tariq al-Dhahab

Posted on

Publication: Volume: 3 Issue: 2

By: Murad Batal Al-Shishani

Tariq Al-Dhahab

Full article available on mlm.jamestown.org

Unlike most of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) releases, the death of Tariq al-Dhahab was confirmed by al-Fajr Media Centre, al-Qaeda’s official media arm, instead of Al-Malhim, AQAP’s media arm. This could represent a new effort designed to centralize the “condolence” statements and messages of the al-Qaeda affiliated groups.

At 35 years old, al-Dhahab was a tribal strongman, Anwar al-Awlaki’s brother-in-law, and the leader of AQAP’s newly formed “Ansar al-Shari’a” in al-Bayda Governorate. The stated aim of Ansar al-Shari’a is to implement Shari’a in various areas of Yemen. On February 16, 2012, al-Dhahab was reportedly killed by his half-brother Hizzam al-Dhahab (Ma’rib Press, February 16). Hizzam was accused of receiving orders from Yemeni authorities to attack his brother. [1] In ordering Tariq al-Shabab’s death, Yemeni authorities were trying to exploit an old tribal rift in the leadership of the al-Dhahab clan.

Hizzam al-Dhahab, who supported Yemeni authorities and the Saleh regime, fundamentally disagreed with Tariq’s ties to AQAP. With Tariq’s death Hizzam, his older brother, temporarily held leadership of the Yemeni city of Rada’a. Tariq’s AQAP affiliates were quick to retaliate to the killing of Tariq. They initiated an attack on Hizzam al-Dhahab’s home, killing Hizzam by planting a car bomb. Hizzam was dead less than twenty-four hours after the attack and death of his brother Tariq.

In the al-Fajr Media Centre statement AQAP said: “Sheikh Tariq al-Dhahab…was the first among tribes that resorted to rule and judge by Shari’a. His home was a shelter for those oppressed and the refuge of the needing persons.” Among other laudatory mentions, the statement described al-Dhahab as wise, patient, polite and brave. [2]

AQAP Affiliate Not Member

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s statement and the prompt revenge they conducted show the importance of al-Dhahab to them, although he was not a formal member of AQAP as many media outlets have suggested. [3]

Al-Dhahab’s connection to AQAP as an affiliate became apparent in mid-January 2012 when fighters led by him seized the al-Amiriyah historical site and announced Shari’a rule in the city of Rada’a, Yemen. Al-Dhahab later withdrew from the city following a tribal mediation that led to the release of his brother, Nabil al-Dhahab, and AQAP members held by Yemeni authorities.

Nabil was arrested by Syrian authorities in 2006 while travelling to Iraq to join the jihadi fight against American troops. Syria repatriated Nabil to Yemen. Tariq then sought Nabil’s release from the custody of Yemeni authorities. In 2007, Tariq appealed to Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh, asking him to release Nabil with the threat that his tribe, “Qaifah” – one of the largest in Yemen, will do what it takes to release their sons. [4] Later, in return for Nabil’s freedom, Tariq agreed to withdraw AQAP troops from Rada’a but he reneged on this agreement.

Nabil al-Dhahab and Kaid al-Dhahab, Tariq and Hizzam’s brothers, are said to be taking steps to consolidate Rada’a in the wake of the family massacre. Tariq al-Dhahab was accused on multiple occasions of being a puppet of Saleh and executing his policies in order to send a message to the West that the alternative to his regime is al-Qaeda. Tariq denied the allegations, retorting that he could not be aligned with a regime that “imprisons our children, is loyal to the U.S. and does not rule by Shari’a.” [5]

AQAP Integration into Yemeni Tribes

Tariq al-Dhahab’s strongest link to AQAP was his relation to American-born Yemeni cleric and prominent AQAP leader Anwar al-Awlaki (killed in September 2011) who was married to al-Dhahab’s sister. [6] Read the rest of this entry »

REVIEW — AQAP and Suspected AQAP Attacks in Yemen Tracker 2010 and 2011

Posted on Updated on

 

Shows provinces where Yemeni launched a crackd...
Image via Wikipedia

December 15, 2011

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has conducted numerous attacks throughout Yemen, with the highest concentration of attacks occurring in the southern governorates. AQAP’s campaign of violence reached the level of an active insurgency in June 2010. Most of AQAP’s targets in Yemen appear to be government targets, with a particular focus on the state’s intelligence and security apparatuses.

Identifying the group responsible for attacks in Yemen – especially in southern Yemen – can be an extremely difficult task, as the government in Yemen is quick to attribute most attacks to AQAP, even without corroborating evidence. The reality, however, is that several groups exist with the capacity to execute small scale attacks in the country. Most notably in southern Yemen, there is a secessionist movement – known as the Southern Movement – that is generally peaceful, but does have violent elements associated with it. The Yemeni government has made attempts to conflate the Southern Movement with AQAP, but, at this point there appears to be little, if any, operational cooperation between the two entities, despite their shared enemy and common geographic location.

The Critical Threats Project has produced this tracker to provide information on al Qaeda’s continued insurgency in Yemen. The tracker includes both attacks for which AQAP has taken credit and incidents attributed to AQAP by the government.

This tracker will be updated with new developments. The Critical Threats Project is tracking al Qaeda’s advances in south Yemen during the recent unrest in its Yemen situation reports.

DECEMBER 9, 2011: A tribal source reported that unidentified gunmen attacked an oil pipeline using rocket-propelled grenades in Aslan region in Shabwah governorate on December 9. The pipeline connects the oil pipelines in Ma’rib governorate to oil export facilities on the Red Sea. AQAP is suspected to be responsible for the attack, according to a local government official.[1]

NOVEMBER 30, 2011: A security official reported that gunmen opened fire on a police vehicle in Khormaksar district in Aden. Two soldiers were killed in the reported assassination attempt of a police commander. Government officials reported that al Qaeda is suspected to be responsible for the attack.[2]

NOVEMBER 21, 2011: An improvised explosive device (IED) blast killed two tribesmen and wounded five others in Mudia in Abyan governorate on November 21. Al Qaeda-linked militants are reportedly responsible for the attack. The attack was reportedly in response to the killing of six al Qaeda-linked militants by security forces.[3] Read the rest of this entry »