Develops its naval capabilities and threatens the hard-earned gains.. An international report warns of al-Qaeda

English - الثلاثاء 20 سبتمبر 2022 الساعة 10:05 ص
Abyan, NewsYemen, Private:

While the southern forces loyal to the Leadership Council, the internationally recognized Yemeni legitimacy, escalated their operations against Al-Qaeda in the coastal governorates of Abyan and Shabwa, a US report warned that "Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is reorganizing its ranks, away from the spotlight," considering its attack in southern  Yemen, which led to the killing of 21 soldiers on September 6, "is the bloodiest since August 2019", based on a US security assessment that monitors "with concern the organization's efforts to redevelop its naval capabilities."

“Decreased counterterrorism pressure on al-Qaeda in recent years threatens hard-earned gains in Yemen,” said the report, prepared by Katherine Zimmerman and Brian Carter for the American Project Institute for Public Policy Research, adding that the organization “retains seasoned senior leaders, although  of its losses. They will remain focused on global jihad and maintain their intent to target and kill Americans, according to a US intelligence assessment."

And the report repeated Al-Qaeda’s history of “multiple terrorist attacks targeting Americans and American interests”:

The first failed terrorist attack by al-Qaeda targeted US Marines at a hotel in Aden in 1992.

 Al-Qaeda killed 17 American sailors aboard the USS Cole in October 2000 in a boat laden with explosives.

It became al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which was formed in January 2009.  Al-Qaeda's most formidable branch, targeted the United States with a underwear bombing in 2009.  and a bomb disguised as printer cartridges in 2010, and another attempted detonation in 2012.

Al-Qaeda threats caused the closure of 22 US embassies across the Middle East and North Africa in 2013. Most recently, the base was responsible for the shooting that killed three Americans at Naval Air Force Base Navciola in 2019.

The report talked about the reliance of the United States' counter-terrorism strategy in Yemen - the so-called "Yemen model" - on local partners to fight al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula on the ground and US airstrikes to target key elements.  Essentially, the United States provides intelligence and logistical support to partner forces to fight AQAP.  US airstrikes eliminate AQAP operatives focused on cross-border attacks and the senior leaders who inspire and direct the organization.

But this approach collapsed in 2015 with the outbreak of war, and AQAP took control of much of southeast Yemen.

The report says the war on terror has successfully resumed “a UAE-led ground offensive against al-Qaeda that was carried out mainly by Emirati-trained Yemeni forces” and disrupted “the gains made by al-Qaeda in 2016. By 2019, al-Qaeda had deteriorated operationally, and its leadership was forced into hiding.  His attack was limited to remote areas.

But, as in 2015, shifts in US partners' priorities have taken the pressure off Al Qaeda.  The UAE withdrew its forces in 2019, after it succeeded in weakening al-Qaeda.

The report continues: Today, al-Qaeda is reshaping its capabilities on the ground.  The September 6 attack marked a change in al-Qaeda's tactical capabilities, and a sign of better recruitment, training, and planning.  Its ancient fortifications in southern Yemen played a role in enabling the resurgence of the group.  Today, the group uses these havens to hide hostages and recruit locally.  Unconfirmed reports indicate that al-Qaeda is becoming more visible, raising its flag from pickup trucks.

In the opinion of the report, “Even if it weakens, al-Qaeda remains a threat to the national security of the United States.  The organization is larger today than it was in 2009 and 2010 when it attacked the United States.  At that time, Al Qaeda had approximately 300 fighters.  Today, he has 3,000 fighters.”

He adds: “It is almost certain that some of these were trained by the Norwegian Anders Cameron Ostensvig Dale, now in Houthi custody, who learned his expertise from explosives mastermind Ibrahim al-Asiri.  Moreover, the organization retains seasoned senior leaders, despite its losses.  They will remain focused on global jihad and maintain their intent to target and kill Americans, according to a US intelligence assessment, which makes the group's efforts to redevelop its naval capabilities troubling.