Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula
: تنظيم القاعدة في جزيرة العرب
: Tanẓīm al-Qā‘idah fī Jazīrat al-‘Arab
'Organization of the Base in the Arabian Peninsula
' or تنظيم قاعدة الجهاد في جزيرة العرب
, Tanẓīm Qā‘idat al-Jihād fī Jazīrat al-‘Arab
, "Organization of Jihad
's Base in the Arabian Peninsula"), or AQAP
, also known as Ansar al-Sharia in Yemen
: جماعة أنصار الشريعة
, Jamā‘at Anṣār ash-Sharī‘ah
, "Group of the Helpers of the Sharia
is a militant Islamist
group primarily active in Yemen
and Saudi Arabia
that is part of the al-Qaeda
It is considered the most active
of al-Qaeda's branches
that emerged after the weakening of central leadership.
The U.S. government
believes AQAP to be the most dangerous al-Qaeda branch.
The group established an emirate
during the 2011 Yemeni Revolution
, which waned in power after foreign interventions in the subsequent Yemeni Civil War
Ideology and formation
2015 map of the then-territorial situation in Yemen. AQAP territory is shown in white, primarily in the Al Bayda
Like al-Qaeda Central, AQAP opposes the monarchy
of the House of Saud
AQAP was formed in January 2009 from a merger of al-Qaeda's Yemeni and Saudi branches.
The Saudi group had been effectively suppressed by the Saudi government, forcing its members to seek sanctuary in Yemen.
In 2010, it was believed to have several hundred members.
The group also seeks for the destruction of the Israeli state
and the liberation of the Palestinian territories
Transformation into an active al-Qaeda affiliate
AQAP fighters in Yemen, 2014.
The number of terrorist plots
in the West that originated from Pakistan
declined considerably from most of them (at the outset), to 75% in 2007, and to 50% in 2010, as al-Qaeda shifted to Somalia
On August 26, 2010, Yemen claimed that U.S. officials had exaggerated the size and danger of al-Qaeda in Yemen, insisting also that fighting the jihadist network's local branch remained Sanaa's job.
A former bodyguard of Osama bin Laden warned of an escalation in fighting between al-Qaeda and Yemeni authorities and predicted the government would need outside intervention to stay in power.
However, Ahmed al-Bahri told the Associated Press
that attacks by al-Qaeda in southern Yemen was an indication of its increasing strength.
Operations and activities as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula
Al-Qaeda was responsible for the USS Cole bombing
in October 2000 in Aden, killing 17 U.S. sailors.
In 2002, an al-Qaeda attack damaged a French supertanker in the Gulf of Aden
Operations and activities as al-Qaeda in Yemen and Saudi Arabia
We will continue to strike blows against American interests and the interest of America's allies.
It also claimed responsibility for the crash
of a UPS Boeing 747-400
cargo plane in Dubai on September 3. The statement continued:
...since both operations were successful, we intend to spread the idea to our mujahedeen
brothers in the world and enlarge the circle of its application to include civilian aircraft in the West as well as cargo aircraft.
American authorities had said they believed that al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was behind the plot.
Officials in the United Kingdom and the United States believe that it is most likely that the bombs were designed to destroy the planes carrying them.
In November 2010, the group announced a strategy, called "Operation Hemorrhage", which it said was designed to capitalize on the "security phobia that is sweeping America." The program would call for a large number of inexpensive, small-scale attacks against United States interests, with the intent of weakening the U.S. economy.
AQAP guards standing out of one of their buildings.
On 21 May 2012, a soldier wearing a belt of explosives carried out a suicide attack on military personnel
preparing for a parade rehearsal for Yemen's Unity Day
. With over 120 people dead and 200 more injured, the attack was the deadliest in Yemeni history.
AQAP claimed responsibility for the attack.
During the June 2012 al Qaeda retreat from key southern Yemen stronghold, the organization planted land mines, which killed 73 civilians.
According to the governor's office in Abyan province, 3,000 mines were removed from around Zinjibar
On 5 December 2013, an attack on the Yemeni Defense Ministry
in Sana'a involving a series of bomb and gun attacks killed at least 56 people.
After footage of the attack was aired on Yemeni television, showing an attack on a hospital within the ministry compound and the killing of medical personnel and patients, the head of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula released a video message apologizing. Qasim al-Raymi
claimed that the team of attackers were directed not to assault the hospital in the attack, but that one had gone ahead and done so.
On 9 May 2014, several soldiers from Yemen were killed after a skirmish sparked when a vehicle attacked a palace gate.
In New Zealand, it is listed as a terror group.
In December 2014, the group released a video depicting Luke Somers
, a journalist whom they were holding hostage.
On 26 November, U.S. Navy SEALs and Yemeni special forces attempted a hostage rescue where eight hostages, none American, were freed, but Luke Somers and four others had been moved to another location by AQAP prior to the raid. The nationalities of the eight hostages rescued were six Yemenis, one Saudi, and one Ethiopian. On 6 December, 40 SEALs used V-22 Ospreys to land a distance from the compound where Somers and Korkie were kept at about 1 a.m. local time, according to a senior defense official. An AQAP fighter apparently spotted them while relieving himself outside, a counter-terrorism official with knowledge of the operation told ABC News, beginning a firefight that lasted about 10 minutes. According to CBS News, dog barking could have alerted the hostage-takers of the operation. When the American soldiers finally entered the building where Somers and Korkie were kept, they found both men alive, but gravely wounded. Korkie and Somers died some minutes later despite attempts to save them.
, former leader and founder of AQAP, was killed by a drone strike in June 2015.
Capture of Mukalla
On 2 April 2015, AQAP fighters stormed the coastal city of Mukalla
, capturing it on the 16th of April after the two-week Battle of Mukalla
. They seized government buildings and used trucks to cart off more than $120 million from the central bank, according to the bank's director. AQAP forces soon passed control to a civilian council, giving it a budget of more than $4 million to provide services to residents of the city. AQAP maintained a police station in the city to mediate Sharia
disputes but avoided imposing its rule across the city. AQAP refrained from using its name, instead of using the name the 'Sons of Hadhramaut' to emphasize its ties to the surrounding province.
Fall of Zinjibar and Jaar
On 2 December 2015, the provincial capital of Abyan Governorate
, and the town of Jaʿār
by AQAP fighters. Like Al Mukala, AQAP forces soon passed control to a civilian council, police patrols and other public services.
Southern Abyan Offensive
On 20 February 2016, AQAP seized
the southern Abyan governorate, linking them with their headquarters in Mukalla.
Liberation of Mukalla
In August 2018, Al Jazeera
reported that the Saudi Arabian-led coalition
"battling Houthi rebels secured secret deals with al-Qaeda in Yemen and recruited hundreds of the group's fighters. ... Key figures in the deal-making said the United States was aware of the arrangements and held off on drone attacks
against the armed group, which was created by Osama bin Laden in 1988."
According to the Associated Press, the Saudi-led coalition "cut secret deals with al-Qaida fighters, paying some to leave key cities and towns and letting others retreat with weapons, equipment and wads of looted cash... hundreds more were recruited to join the coalition itself."
On 7 April 2019, UAE and Security Belt
forces launched a large anti-terror military campaign to clear a number of mountains and valleys located in the Mahfad town, then a key hideout of AQAP militants. UAE-backed Yemeni security forces succeeded in seizing arms and ammunition, including hand grenades, improvised explosive devices and communication equipment and AQAP militants fled to other areas.
On 30 August 2019, UAE airstrikes on AQAP in southern Yemen targeted a number of moving vehicles carrying AQAP members.
In September 2019, AQAP took advantage and deployed across Abyan and Shabwa in southern Yemen following the UAE draw down from Yemen and increased infighting between Houthis and Hadi forces. According to a local Yemeni official, the absence of the Shabwani elite security units, that had been trained and equipped by the UAE, enabled AQAP to gain a foothold in the turbulent Shabwa province again.
On January 31, 2020, The New York Times
reported three U.S. officials "expressed confidence" that Qasim al-Raymi
, the emir of AQAP, was killed in Yemen. For years al-Raymi eluded U.S. forces as he led what experts sometimes refer to as al-Qaida's “most dangerous franchise.” The former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Mick Mulroy
said, if confirmed, his death would be “very significant”. This was not the first time the United States has tried to get al-Raymi. He was the target of a January 29, 2017, special operations raid in which Navy SEAL William Owens (Navy SEAL)
was killed. “The United States never forgets”, Mulroy said.  The Wall Street Journal
also reported his death and that al-Raymi directed multiple operations to attack the U.S. including the attempt to blow up a U.S.-bound airliner on Christmas Day 2009.
His death was later confirmed by the White House on February 6.
AQAP fighters in Yemen.
In April 2011, Shaykh Abu Zubayr Adil bin Abdullah al-Abab, AQAP's chief religious figure, explained the name change as a re-branding exercise: "the name Ansar al-Sharia is what we use to introduce ourselves in areas where we work to tell people about our work and goals."
U.S. drone strikes
On September 30, 2011, a US drone attack in Yemen resulted in the death of Anwar al-Awlaki
, one of the group's leaders, and Samir Khan
, the editor of Inspire
, its English-language magazine.
Both were US citizens.
The pace of US drone attacks quickened significantly in 2012, with over 20 strikes in the first five months of the year, compared to 10 strikes during the course of 2011.
Over the period 19–21 April 2014, a series of drone attacks on AQAP killed dozens of militants, and at least 3 civilians.
A spokesperson for the Yemeni Supreme Security Committee described the attacks, which included elements of the Yemeni army as well as US drones, as "massive and unprecedented".
The attacks were alleged to have targeted AQAP leadership, with a major AQAP base in Wadi al-Khayala reported to have been destroyed.
From March 1 through March 8, 2017, the US conducted 45 airstrikes against AQAP, a record amount of airstrikes conducted against the group by the US in recent history. The airstrikes were reported to have killed hundreds of AQAP militants.
The US continued its airstrikes afterward. Around 1–2 April 2017, the US carried out another 20 airstrikes, increasing the total number of airstrikes against AQAP in 2017 to 75, nearly double previously yearly record of 41 airstrikes in 2009.
On August 31, 2019, at least 40 al Qaeda operatives were killed in airstrike carried out by the United States on a training camp in presence of the leaders of Hurras al-Deen
, Ansar al-Tawhid and other allied groups in Syria.
The group has taken advantage of Yemen's "slow collapse into near-anarchy. Widespread corruption, growing poverty and internal fragmentation have helped make Yemen a breeding ground for terror."
More than two years later, on April 25, 2012, a suspected US drone strike killed Mohammed Said al-Umdah, a senior AQAP member cited as the number four in the organization and one of the 2006 escapees. He had been convicted of the 2002 tanker bombing and for providing logistical and material support.
Yemeni analyst, Barak Barfi, discounted claims that marriage between the militant group and Yemeni tribes is a widespread practice, though he states that the bulk of AQAP members hail from the tribes.
AQAP is a popular choice for radicalized Americans seeking to join Islamist terror organizations overseas. In 2013 alone, at least three American citizens or permanent residents — Marcos Alonso Zea, Justin Kaliebe, and Shelton Thomas Bell — have attempted to join AQAP.
They count among over 50 Americans who have attempted to join terrorist groups overseas, including AQAP, since 2007.
Reportedly, as many as 20 Islamist British nationals traveled to Yemen in 2009 to be trained by AQAP.
In February 2012, up to 500 Internationalistas from Somalia's Al Shabaab, after getting cornered by a Kenyan offensive and conflict with Al Shabaab national legions, fled to Yemen.
It is likely that a number of this group merged with AQAP. The following is a list of people who have been purported to be AQAP members. Most, but not all, are or were Saudi nationals. Roughly half have appeared on Saudi "most wanted" lists. In the left column is the rank of each member in the original 2003 list of the 26 most wanted.
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- ^ "Report: Saudi-UAE coalition 'cut deals' with al-Qaeda in Yemen". Al-Jazeera. 6 August 2018.
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- ^ Barfi, Barak (2010), Yemen on the Brink?: The Resurgence of al Qaeda in Yemen (PDF), New America Foundation, archived from the original(PDF) on 2013-10-01
- ^ a b "Long Island Arrest Highlights Continuing Lure Of Terror Groups Abroad". Access ADL. Anti-Defamation League. Archived from the original on 2013-10-21. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
- ^ Sean Rayment; Adrian Blomfield; Richard Spencer; Philip Sherwell (January 3, 2010). "Detroit terror attack: Britain sends counter-terrorist forces to Yemen". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on January 6, 2010.
- ^ http://www.longwarjournal.org/ linked to http://www.mareeg.com/fidsan.php?sid=23090&tirsan=3
- ^ "CTC Sentinel — Combating Terrorism Center at West Point" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 January 2011. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
- ^ a b Saudi al-Qaida cell promises revengeArchived October 1, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, Al Jazeera, 20 March 2004
- ^ Profile: Abdul Aziz al-Muqrin, BBC, 19 June 2004
- ^ a b c CBC report on al-Muqrin and three others killed, and AQAP's acknowledgement
- ^ ""Bitter School Dropout Who Became a Flamboyant Killer" by Rob L. Wagner, Saudi Gazette, June 20, 2004". 2004-06-20. Retrieved 2012-06-04.
- ^ Al-Qaeda Chief in Kingdom Killed, Arab News, 19 August 2005
- ^ a b Death of Top Terrorists in Al-Rass Gunbattle Confirmed, Arab News, 10 April 2005
- ^ "Battle of Al-Ras" by Sabria S. Jawhar and Rob L. Wagner, Saudi Gazette, April 12, 2005. Google.com (2003-05-12). Retrieved 2011-12-29.
- ^ a b c KSA wanted list Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, Embassy of Saudi Arabia to the USA
- ^ Saudis' Most Wanted Is Captured, CBS News, 6 August 2004
- ^ Report of death of al-Mani' Archived May 1, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, CNN, 13 October 2004
- ^ SITE notice Archived September 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine about Sultan al-Otaibi
- ^ a b Australian Broadcasting Corp. on Sultan al-Otaibi and Bandar al-Dakhil, 31 December 2004
- ^ Top Saudi militant surrenders, The Tribune (of India), 29 June 2004
- ^ Islam Today report of mediation in the surrender of Othman al-'Amri. The mediator was Safir al-Hawali; see Salman al-Ouda.
- ^ Death confirmed of wanted terrorist suspect Alshihri, Embassy of Saudi Arabia to USA, 22 February 2004
- ^ a b c d e KSA's 19 most wanted Archived September 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine and other information, San'a' Al-Watan, 1 May 2004
- ^ Royal Crackdown Archived February 5, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, by John Walsh, Harvard International Review, Fall 2003; about Turki al-Dandani. Details are at present available only in Arabic.
- ^ Newsmax on the death of Abdul-Rahman Yazji
- ^ New Pictures of Most Wanted 7 Released, Arab News, 20 August 2004
- ^ a b Riyadh Daily Archived November 14, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, 12 May 2003 (in Arabic)
- ^ Key Riyadh bombings suspect gives up, CNN, 26–27 June 2003
- ^ Summary of several captures in the Arabian Peninsula, BBC, 4 March 2004
- ^ Report on al-Omari, BBC News, 8 November 2005
- ^ a b Saudis 'kill militant fugitive', BBC, 28 December 2005
- ^ Saudi government identifies 12 dead bombers re the Riyadh residential compound attack
- ^ Saudi Arabia says 5 militants slain belonged to al-Qaeda, Associated Press, 8 September 2005
- ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-01-15. Retrieved 2013-08-05.
- ^ Maggie Michael (January 23, 2009). "Report: Ex-Gitmo Detainee Joins Al-Qaida in Yemen". ABC News. Archived from the original on October 24, 2009.
- ^ Vikås, Marianne; Coombs, Casey L.; Johnsrud, Ingar; Akerhaug, Lars; Tom Bakkeli (2012-07-02). "none". Verdens Gang (in Norwegian). p. 12.
Johnsen, Gregory (2012). The Last Refuge: Yemen, al-Qaeda, and America's War in Arabia
, Scribe, Melbourne. ISBN 9781922070012
Wikimedia Commons has media related to AQAP
- Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Council on Foreign Relations
- Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Counter Extremism Project
- AQAP in Yemen, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)
- Al-Qa‘ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), U.S. National Counterterrorism Center
- "Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula collected news and commentary". The New York Times.
- "Al-Qaeda" in Yemen: Timeline of Strikes and Statements, Jane Novak, Armies of Liberation, September 21, 2008
- Profile: Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, BBC News, 31 October 2010
- Factbox: AQAP, Al Qaeda's Yemen-based wing, Reuters, 22 March 2011
Last edited on 4 April 2021, at 19:23
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