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Posts Tagged ‘AQAP’

Iconclasm Again

June 22nd, 2012 Comments off


Once again AQAP/Ansar al-Shari’a shows its mean spirit, not only destroying the lives of the living but resorting to desecrating the dead. Before pulling out of Ja’ar in southern Yemen, several of the iconclasts destroyed the shrine of al Ja’dani in Al Tareyyah, among other shrines. Ibrahim Suleiman al Rubaish, a former detainee at Guantanamo Bay and now a senior AQAP leader, issued a video taking credit for the demolition work. Here is what he is reported to have said:

“Here are the mujahideen by the grace of Allah the Great and Almighty carrying out what Allah commanded them to do and reviving their jihad in the Cause of Allah…. So, just as they fought democracy and representative councils which make laws alongside Allah, they are destroying the domes which are being worshipped other than Allah, along with the graves and mausoleums, which people try to get close to other than Allah the Great and Almighty.”

“We fight the idolatry of the palaces and the graves – both are the same.”

The idolatry he does not see is his own intolerance, as though Allah has made him a successor of the prophet. Yemen’s south is dotted with shrines, reflecting the generations of Sufis and other devout scholars who have lived in Yemen over the centuries. Rubaish, who is in fact a Saudi and not Yemeni, places himself above all these Yemenis of the past. Like the other AQAP leaders, he is not likely to last long, but the destruction he touts adds salt to the wounds of the current turmoil in Yemen. Yemen has a rich Islamic history of monuments and saints tombs. Unlike the Taliban blasting in 2001 of the Buddha images at Bamiyan, also a senseless act, Rubaish cannot even claim to be destroying an image from another religion. He thinks he is fighting “the palaces and the graves,” but he is really fighting against time and doing more to harm Islam than promote it.

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Our undeclared wars in Yemen & in Somalia?!

June 16th, 2012 Comments off

“…In Somalia, the U.S. military has worked to counter the terrorist threat posed by al-Qa’ida and al-Qa’ida-associated elements of al-Shabaab. In a limited number of cases, the U.S. military has taken direct action in Somalia against members of al-Qa’ida, including those who are also members of al-Shabaab, who are engaged in efforts to carry out terrorist attacks against the United States and our interests.The U.S. military has also been working closely with the Yemeni government to operationally dismantle and ultimately eliminate the terrorist threat posed by al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the most active and dangerous affiliate of al-Qa’ida today. Our joint efforts have resulted in direct action against a limited number of AQAP operatives and senior leaders in that country who posed a terrorist threat to the United States and our interests…” 



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Nine militants killed in Yemen

June 11th, 2012 Comments off

At least nine militants were killed after Yemeni army clashed with Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) terrorists Sunday in Abyan province.
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Al Qaeda leaders killed in Yemen air strike

May 7th, 2012 Comments off

Two wanted terrorists of the Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) have been killed in a US air strike in a mountainous region in Yemen, a media report said.
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Yemeni warplanes bomb al-Qaeda bases, 18 killed

March 19th, 2012 Comments off

At least 18 militants were killed and dozens of others injured after Yemeni warplanes bombed several bases of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in the country's Abyan province Sunday.
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Yemeni Al Qaida stepping up attacks on security bases

March 4th, 2012 Comments off

Sana'a (Yemen): An Al Qaida offshoot in Yemen, known as the AQAP (Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula) has stepped up attacks on security bases, even as the country tries to recover from recent politica
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Can AQAP mount an insurgency?

February 15th, 2012 Comments off


by Issandr El Amrani, The Arabist, February 14, 2012

[This post was co-authored by the editor of the recently released report “A False Foundation? AQAP, Tribes, and Ungoverned Spaces in Yemen”, Gabriel Koehler-Derrick, and the author of the same report. For reasons of security and to facilitate future research in the region the author’s name has been withheld from the report. Gabriel is an associate at West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center and an instructor in the Department of Social Sciences.]

On 15 January a member of a United Nations team was kidnapped from an upscale neighborhood in Yemen’s capital. He was reportedly taken to the eastern governorate of Marib and held for more than a week by heavily-armed tribesmen who demanded the release of their relatives held on suspicion of supporting al-Qa`ida. The day of the abduction, word spread of militants from an alleged al-Qa`ida affiliate, Ansar al-Sharia`a, overrunning a city just 80 miles south of Sana’a. A week later, footage of an alleged commander of the group, a tribal sheikh and brother in law of Anwar al-`Awlaqi named Tariq al-Dhahab, was posted on YouTube. The clips seem to show Ansar al-Sharia`a fighters in control of the city’s mosque, enjoying support from some local residents, and for the first time on video, soliciting oaths of allegiance from young men on behalf of al-Qa`ida’s leaders in Yemen and Pakistan. (Click here for videos)

Both events have been interpreted as the latest evidence of Yemen’s imminent collapse, an outcome especially troubling for the United States. Whereas the Arab Spring has spurred varying degrees of optimism regarding political developments in Tunisia, Egypt, and even Libya, Yemen appears headed in the opposite direction. The prospect of al-Qa`ida inspired militants moving to fill the void left by a faltering central government makes a bad situation that much worse. AQAP is not alone in taking advantage of the chaos. Across the country the Yemeni government is ceding ground to a variety of sub state actors. These include Southern Secessionists in the former PDRY (People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen), Houthi insurgents in the North, and since May of 2011 in Abyan and perhaps Baydah governorates, al-Qa`ida’s local offshoot, al-Qa`ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Ansar al-Shar`ia.

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Al Qaeda targeting more American jihadist recruits in Yemen

January 11th, 2012 Comments off

An Al-Qaeda outfit in Yemen, also known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), is targeting more American jihadist recruits, the US Department of Homeland Security and the FBI has warned.
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The Seduction of Simple Solutions

July 1st, 2011 Comments off


Over at Waq al-Waq there is an excellent commentary by Greg Johnsen on the situation in Yemen, responding to a “think tank” report from people who really do not know Yemen very well (or apparently want to know it in a certain way). Here is the start…

Late last week Frank Cilluffo and Clint Watts released a policy brief from George Washington University’s Homeland Security Policy Institute entitled “Yemen and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula: Exploiting a Window of Counterterrorism Opportunity.”

My in-box quickly filled up with helpful people sending me copies of the report, I have now had time to read it and digest and my thoughts follow below.

(Note:) I don’t know Frank Cilluffo but I do know and respect Clint and he has seen a copy of my rebuttal here prior to posting.

For those who are faithful readers of Waq al-waq it should come as no surprise that I strongly disagree with the report and its conclusions. I think this is what happens when smart people tackle a complex problem in an environment they don’t know particularly well. The report, in my opinion, is full of assumptions that make sense broadly but break down the closer one gets to Yemen.

Obviously there are parts of the report I agree with, and many other places where well-intentioned people can disagree.

(Quotes from the paper are in italics; mine are in regular caps.)

Assumption 1: AQAP suddenly stronger this month

“This week’s escape of 63 suspected al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) fighters from a Yemeni prison exemplifies how President Saleh’s departure to Saudi Arabia and Yemeni instability embolden this lethal al Qaeda affiliate.“

I’m pretty sure that AQAP was emboldened prior to Salih’s departure, the group has been incredibly active in Yemen recently and I would argue that largely as a result of US air strikes between December 2009 and May 2010, the organization is actually stronger now in terms of recruits than it was when it dispatched the so-called underwear bomber who tried to bring down the airplane over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009.

Assumption 2: Huthis and Southern Movement are responsible

“In recent weeks, the writ of government in Yemen has evaporated under the twin strains of the Houthi rebellion in northern Yemen and the Secessionist movement in southern Yemen.”

This is simply untrue – the writ of Yemen’s government has evaporated under popular protests. The Huthi rebellion has been ongoing since 2004 and the Southern movement since 2007 – neither of these are new, and neither of these are the cause of the recent collapse.

For Greg’s full commentary, click here.

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US has fingerprint, forensic evidence of top Al Qaeda bomb-maker

May 24th, 2011 Comments off

The FBI has fingerprint and forensic evidence linking Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) bomb-maker Khalid Ibrahim al-Asiri to a trio of explosive devices used in recent attacks on the US, counter-terrorism officials have said.
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