Al Qaeda opens new training camp in Yemen

Members of al Qaeda in Yemen announce the merger with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Abu Hurayrah Qasim al Raymi (left), Said Ali al Shihri (center-left), Abu Basir Nasir al Wuhayshi (center-right), Abu Hareth Muhammad al Awfi (right).

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has opened a new training camp in the South. The new camp highlights Yemen’s value to al Qaeda in waging its global terror campaign.

The camp is based in the Al Jaza area in the district of Mudiyah in the southern province of Abyan. The camp is said to house more than 400 local and foreign fighters. Yemenis, Saudis, and Somalis make up the vast majority of the fighters.

The camp was established with the approval of the central government, according to a report in Saru Hamyir, an Arabic-language Yemeni news website. The existence of the camp was confirmed by US military and intelligence officials familiar with the region.

The weak Yemeni government is known to support al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula while targeting jihadi groups that do not adhere to a peace agreement signed in January.

The government supports the group in exchange for trained fighters to battle the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Sa’dah in the North. The government is currently battling the Houthi rebels in a fight that dragged in the Saudis when the Houthis attacked and took control of a border checkpoint.

This is the second known camp in operation in Abyan. In the spring, al Qaeda opened a camp in the Ahboosh mountains, north of the city of Ja’ar.

Earlier this week, the government claimed to have detained Sami Dayan, al Qaeda’s leader in Abyan province, along with six other al Qaeda operatives. Dayan was captured at the border with Saudi Arabia while attempting to flee Yemen, The Yemen Post reported.

The military launched a major operation in Abyan in the spring under the guise of restoring its writ in the province, but targeted only the groups that deviated from the January peace agreement.

Yemen has become one of al Qaeda’s most secure bases as well as a hub for activities on the Arabian Peninsula and on 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 also known to operate terror camps in Aden, and in the Alehimp and Sanhan regions in Sana’a. It has conducted attacks on oil facilities, tourists, Yemeni security forces, and the US embassy in Sana’a.

The terror group has also been instrumental in supporting al Qaeda’s operation 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.

“Yemen is Pakistan in the heart of the Arab world,” one official said. “You have military and government collusion with al Qaeda, peace agreements, budding terror camps, and the export of jihad to neighboring countries.”

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • AAndrew says:

    Why aren’t we sending a few cruise missiles, or better yet MOABs, their way ASAP? 400 AQs in one spot seems like a pretty target rich environment.

  • Azad says:

    Interestingly Yemen is the US-Ally in Middle East, supposed to be fighting against terror 🙂
    Most of the US-Ally countries and dictatorships are followers of Wahhabism (The most violent fundamentalist doctrine cult created 200 yrs ago)
    Al-Qayeda, Lashkar, Hizbul Mujhideen etc. are Wahaabi organizations.
    It is an expansionist sect intolerant of Sunni, Sufi, Shia, Judaism, Christianity, and Hinduism; in fact, Wahhabists seek to challenge and destroy these faiths.
    Instead of fighting the real terror ideology US is misleading the world and attacking places which are not involved in any way with 9/11.
    The war against terror is an eye wash, Obama is doing exactly what Bush did.

  • ayamo says:

    Bomb this whole thing into oblivion!
    If the location is so well-known there shouldn’t be any kind of a problem to lay waste on it.
    If the Yemeni army isn’t willing to do lets move the Special Forces in or launch the US carriers in the area an attack.

  • Jav says:

    Azad –
    i think you should study more about Islam before you try to explain each sect and what their written goals are.
    i have many friends who follow the wahabi school of thought and they are all friendly and peaceful people just like the many sunni, shia, christian, hindhu, sikh friends i have.
    dont label a group of people by the acts of a very minor few.
    its just like me saying England (the country i was born and live in), are a bunch of facist people who hate anyone who is not white…..but this would be a very wrong and false statement for me to make because 99% of the population believe in multiculturalism and also respect other religions
    Think about what you say, before you say it!

  • Mr. Wolfe says:

    Maybe we should pay off the secretary or cook at one of these camps. Let us know when lots of people come and go. Then keep some UAV’s on them or beepers on the cars for a hijack op. Or better yet, bug their camp. Lots of people, lots of info.

  • wallbangr says:

    Im confused. According to this NY Times article[] — a questionable source, I know — it has not been clearly established that Iran is backing the Houthi rebels and in fact it is media stories like this very one that seem to be proliferating the idea. “The notion that the Houthis are natural religious allies of Iran is misplaced; Zaydism is doctrinally closer to Sunnism than to mainstream Shiism. But a raft of misleading news reports seem to be blurring that distinction, and circumstances may be pushing the Zaydis and Iran together. Or so their enemies fear.”
    Regardless of which is the case, it seems like the Houthis are fighting the Yemeni gov’t and recently provoked an engagement with the Saudis. If the enemy of my enemy is my friend, then you would think the Yemeni government would be on the same page as the Saudis. AQAP is no friend of the Saudi government (see assassination attempt on Prince Muhammad bin Naif) and has been allying itself to the Houthis against the Yemeni government. So why are the Yemmenis allowing an AQAP base on their territory, knowing they support the Houthi action against them and are instigating cross border military action by their neighbors in Saudi Arabia? Or are they truly the Pakistanis of the Arabian Penninsula (i.e., playing the dangerous game of supporting the very insurgency that they proclaim to be standing up against in the country next door)? Are the Yemenis really trying to have it both ways, or is their grip on power so loose that, like the Pakistanis, they are forced to make backroom deals with the “bad guys”? Please enlighten me. Thanks.

  • George says:

    I do not believe in wholesale destruction of a group of people, because they are religiously different than I am, but we do have the right to use force for force and judge for ourselves if the intended force is equal to that received by us or our allies. the downside of guerilla warfare is the collateral damage that is always a part of these conflicts. Our government leaders have to lead the way in sending the right message to terrorists; that we as a people will not be idle as they have their way. There are clearly times and places when blows have to be struck in the defense of liberty and what is right and just. This may be one of those times and places!!!!


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