4 Threat Matrix: AQAP leader, Yemeni tribal leader killed in clashes in Rada'a

Written by Bill Roggio on February 16, 2012 10:45 AM to 4 Threat Matrix

Available online at: http://www.longwarjournal.org/threat-matrix/archives/2012/02/aqap_leader_yemeni_tribal_lead.php


Tariq al Dhabab. Image from the SITE Intelligence Group.

Tariq al Dhahab, the al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula commander who took control of Rada'a in Baydah province last month, was gunned down in a mosque by one of his older brothers, Hazam, a senior tribal leader in the town. Tariq's followers retaliated, attacking Hazam's home, and killing him. From the Yemen Post:

Hazam broke on Wednesday evening into a mosque, where his brother and some of al-Qaeda militants were living, and killed his Tariq and some of his followers, tribal dignitary from the area told Yemen Post on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

"He has killed his younger brother after he repeatedly warned him not to align himself with the islamists, however his brother was obstinate and did not pay heed to his warnings and advice. That's why he had to kill him before he is killed by the authorities, said the tribal dignitary.

"Al-Qaeda militants have quickly avenged their leader loss as they have launched some attacks on Hazam's, the older brother and tribal chief, house, shelling it with Rocket Propellant Grenades and mortars,"

Furthermore, the younger brother followers (al-Qaeda militants) have also planted some mines around the brother home, leaving Hazam and a number of his guards killed on Thursday morning, the local tribal source added.

While in control of Rada'a, Tariq flew al Qaeda's banner over the citadel and his fighters swore allegiance to Ayman al Zawahiri. He even released a short videotape urging Muslims "to unite and be patient" as "the Islamic Caliphate is coming."

Hazam was one of several tribal leaders who convinced Tariq to withdraw his hundreds of fighters from Rada'a last month. In exchange, more than a dozen al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula fighters, including Hazam's and Tariq's younger brother, Nabil, were freed from prison. Also, the tribal leaders promised to enforce sharia, or Islamic law, in Rada'a.

The prisoner release turns out to be instrumental in solving the problem of filling Tariq's vacancy as the AQAP leader in Baydah province. A US intelligence official who closely tracks Yemen and AQAP said Nabil will succeed Tariq as the new commander for Baydah.

According to The Guardian, Hazam, Tariq, Nabil, and their oldest brother Majid, the current leader of the Dhahab tribe, have all clashed since their father's death two years ago.

Majid, Hazam, Tariq, and Nabil are all brothers-in-law of Anwar al Awlaki, the US citizen who served as a senior al Qaeda operational commander and ideologue. Awlaki was killed in a US drone strike last fall.