Al Qaeda prepares 'an army of 12,000 fighters,' threatens security forces
A military commander for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed that the terror group has raised a 12,000-man army in southern Yemen and will continue to attack security forces in the region.
The claim was made by Mohammed Said al Umdah Gharib al T'aizzi, a senior military commander in southern Yemen, in an audiotape released on July 29, titled "Comment on the Recent Events in Aden and Ma'rib." The tape was produced by AQAP's media arm, Al Malahim, and distributed to jihadist websites by the Al Fajr Media Center.
"We have a good news for the Islamic nation, that an army of 12,000 fighters is being prepared in Aden and Abyan," T'aizzi said, referring to two southern strongholds of AQAP. "By this army, we will establish an Islamic Caliphate," T'aizzi added, according to a translation of the tape provided by Xinhua.
T'aizzi said the Yemeni government was complicit in allowing the US to conduct Predator and cruise missile airstrikes in Abyan and Marib, and he vowed to attack the government and security forces for working with the US.
"This is a message to the Yemeni government security and the National Security Service: our swords are ready and we are resolved to cleanse the land," T'aizzi said. "You are covering for American crimes to subjugate the people of this country to serve U.S. interests in the region," he continued. "These crimes will be responded to decisively."
T'aizzi also said that AQAP was behind the recent attack on a Yemen security service headquarters in Aden as well as the attempted assassination of the British ambassador in Sana'a.
The US has carried out several airstrikes in Yemen, including a cruise missile attack on Dec. 17, 2009, that killed 14 al Qaeda operatives and 41 civilians.
Yemen has become one of al Qaeda's most secure bases as well as a hub for activities on the Arabian Peninsula and in the Horn of Africa.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is based in Yemen and carries out its attacks against the Saudi government from there. The group is known to operate terror camps in Aden, Marib, Abyan, and in the Alehimp and Sanhan regions in Sana'a. It has conducted attacks on oil facilities, tourists, the Yemeni security forces, and the US and British embassies in Sana'a.
The terror group has also been instrumental in supporting al Qaeda's operations in Somalia, US intelligence officials told The Long War Journal. Yemen serves as a command and control center, a logistics hub, a transit point from Asia and the Peninsula, and a source of weapons and munitions for the al Qaeda-backed Shabaab and Hizbul Islam.
Over the past years, two terror attacks directed at the US have been traced back to Yemen: the murder of 13 soldiers at a deployment center at Fort Hood, Texas, in November 2009, by a Muslim US Army major; and the attempted bombing of an airplane over Detroit on Christmas Day by a Nigerian trained in Yemen. Both attacks were inspired by Anwar al Awlaki, a US citizen who has been designated as a terrorist for supporting terror activities. Awlaki is currently sheltering in Yemen.
"Yemen is Pakistan in the heart of the Arab world," one official said last year. "You have military and government collusion with al Qaeda, peace agreements, budding terror camps, and the export of jihad to neighboring countries."
• Al-Qaida wing claims to form 12,000-strong army in southern Yemen, Xinhua
• Evidence presented of US involvement in 2009 airstrike in Yemen, The Long War Journal
• Yemen: New terror camps as a city falls to jihadists, The Long War Journal
• Al Qaeda opens new training camp in Yemen, The Long War Journal
• US adds Anwar al Awlaki to list of designated terrorists, The Long War Journal