Update: Since this report was posted, AQAP released a video of the attack on the military intelligence headquarters in Lahj. The report has been edited to reflect this development.
On July 29, a Twitter account affiliated with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released photos of “the bombing of the military intelligence headquarters” in “Wilayat Lahj.” These images most likely document the suicide attack that targeted the military intelligence headquarters in Lahj province on March 18. AQAP and other al Qaeda affiliates routinely refer to territory deemed under their control as “wilaya,” meaning “province” or “state,” implying AQAP control over a wider swath of land subsuming the “wilaya.” The following day, AQAP released a video from its “From the Battlefield” series containing footage from the attack in Lahj.
At dawn on March 18, a suicide bomber detonated a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) at the Yemeni military intelligence headquarters in Lahj province north of the port city of Aden. One soldier who was guarding the facility was killed. Five soldiers and eight civilians were reported wounded as a result of the attack, including two children.
Yemeni security sources said at the time that an al Qaeda suicide car bomb exploded at the gate of the military intelligence headquarters in Lahj province’s Sabr district. The military facility is located about 15 kilometers north of Aden, the largest city in southern Yemen and a haven for al Qaeda militants.
The blast from the explosion was powerful enough to almost completely destroy the military intelligence headquarters. Those injured from the attack were rushed to Aden area hospitals in southern Yemen.
Although AQAP did not immediately take credit for the attack, officials and analysts pointed out that a suicide bombing targeting a major military intelligence facility was in line with al Qaeda’s modus operanidi. The pictures released on Twitter clearly validate this assumption.
The video of the attack documents AQAP fighters on a nocturnal reconnaissance mission in advance of the attack and also contains footage of the suicide operation itself. Viewers can clearly see a white vehicle driving up to the military intelligence headquarters and parking directly in front of it. Moments later, the VBIED detonates, causing massive damage at the site.
The video is prefaced by a 45-second message from AQAP military commander and co-founder Qasim al Raymi, who accuses the Yemeni establishment of complicity in the US drone program in Yemen. Al Raymi claims that AQAP has a “long list” of Yemeni traitors to target, and declares, “They must pay the price!”
Below are several of the photos released on Twitter. The banner at the bottom of each one reads, “Bombing of the military intelligence headquarters – Wilayat Lahj”: