AQAP claims IED attacks on US Embassy in Sanaa

On Nov. 28, a Twitter account linked to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed credit for bombing the US Embassy in the Yemeni capital Sanaa during the evening of Nov. 27, coinciding with Thanksgiving, using two improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The last time AQAP has claimed credit for directly targeting the US Embassy in Sanaa was in late September, after fighters from the terrorist group launched rockets that reportedly fell about 100 meters away from the embassy.

In the statement regarding the latest embassy attack, AQAP claims that its fighters managed to plant two IEDs at the northern gate of the US Embassy in Sana’a. The statement notes that one of these explosives contained shrapnel, a common terrorist practice used to increase potential injuries from the explosion. According to AQAP, the explosives were detonated at precisely 7:51 p.m. on Nov. 27 and resulted in a number of casualties among the ranks of the embassy security guards.

However, the AQAP narrative on the attack is at odds with other reports on the incident. Arabic media reports and Yemeni security sources claimed that assailants riding a motorbike who were “believed to be from al Qaeda” opened fire at the embassy security guards. Those reports also state that two individuals were killed in the course of the “clashes,” including one of the assailants.

The AQAP statement recognizes this disparity and denies the media reports’ claims. “Our correspondent denied the veracity of this matter,” the AQAP statement reads, “confirming that the attack was carried out by detonating the two IEDs remotely and not by using firearms, as was stated by the media.”

This latest attack comes just weeks after AQAP claimed to have targeted US Ambassador to Yemen Matthew H. Tueller. On Nov. 8, AQAP stated that two IEDs planted by its fighters in front of the residence of the Yemeni president in Sana’a were intended to be detonated as Tueller left a meeting inside the house. Tueller met with President Hadi on Nov. 8 in his Sana’a home for over an hour, and the AQAP statement claimed that the explosives were found just minutes before the ambassador exited the Yemeni president’s house.

If AQAP’s claims are true, this would be yet another indication that AQAP has successfully exploited Yemen’s current unstable political and security situation to its benefit. Just this month, AQAP has claimed to have planted explosives in front of the residences of both the current and former Yemeni presidents, attempted to assassinate the US ambassador, and tried to attack the US Embassy. These alleged attacks have come amid almost daily AQAP operations against Yemeni military positions, particularly in the southern and eastern provinces, as well as targeting the advance of Shiite Houthi rebels in central Yemen.

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