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

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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  • BraddS says:

    So that means an “army” of 120, right?

  • KnightHawk says:

    maybe more like you know maybe 50 to 100. 😉

  • Hellfire says:

    this is a very clear sign of the jihadis and their aspirations. Al-Qaeda in Yemen views 12,000 fighters as a fulfillment of a narration by muhammad that there will be an army of 12,000 from the exact region where AQAP is today. this army will, apparently, lend support to the imam mahdi, who will supposedly arise at a time of great turmoil in the islamic world to restart the caliphate.
    the problem with a folloowing a prophecy is, we can all know al-qaeda’s strategy even more in terms of their regional aspirations now that they are so overtly following prophecies by muhammad and allowing it to influence their strategy.
    wipe them out; all of them.

  • scott says:

    Islam states imam mahdi will rise when there will be an islamic state already established. he will take the caliphate from the the ruler of that specific time (ruler was killed).
    yes there are references to yemen being the catalyst behing the remergence of the caliphate but your also missing other narations such as the following, a group of men holding black banners will rise from the khurasaan (eastern iran, afghanistan, western pakistan), and they will conqure al hind (asia) and will establish the caliphate. theres also narrations that mention iraq and palastine being areas which will help the caliphate return.

  • Hellfire says:

    @ scott aka hillbilly aka geoff
    thanks; just like they also mention ash-Sham. There is also a narration about people from somewhere in Persia giving assistance to the dajjal at the time of the mahdi?
    they’ll have black turbans or something.

  • Zeissa says:

    Twelve thousand seem overly optimistic. They probably strove to count their reserves in order to achieve this symbolism. I would not think they have more than a few thousand active fighters at most.

  • zarin says:

    Hellfire & Scott
    There are narrations about Israeel and a final war in place called Ludh which is situated some where near Talavive whereforces of Mehdi will defeat Israeel. There is return of Prophet Essa(Jessus) who will support the forces of Imam Mehdi.
    The peoples with black turbans or banners supporting Daajl are in fact forces of taliban or AQ wand they also will be dinmenteled by Mehdi. God knows better.

  • Neo says:

    It appears that we are going to use the long distance strategy of dealing with insurgents in Yemen. We will strike them remotely from outside the country, while avoiding all but the very smallest troop insertions. We will attempt to project power while at the same time using little to no footprint.
    In the long run, I honestly don’t think it will work very smoothly. The approach will be too timid. There is a definite place for that sort of low profile, low footprint, over the horizon stuff, but I don’t understand why so many people have fallen in love with fighting this way, it has had its successes on the Pakistan border, but is totally unproven in a broader context.

  • Rhyno327 says:

    12,000?? Thats a lot of men to feed, house, arm even hide. I thought “Baghdad Bob” had retired, so who came up with this? I agree that the US will strike at range, leave a small footprint if SF are used. There does not have to be a huge US presence. Let the Saudi’s get thier hands dirty, coz they already have blood on them [US blood]

  • Hellfire says:

    @ Scott
    How did you mispell Jesus? (“Jessus”) and Dajjal? (“Daajl”) you of all people should know these things, that’s if you are who you’re presenting yourself to be.
    Also, what is dismenteled?

  • Nic says:

    There are approx. 1.5 billion Muslims. That means there about 750,000,000 Muslims who are male. 12,000 is 0.000016 percent of the male Muslim population. That number is a nothing. I would expect AQAP to have many times that number based on conservative estimates when the culture and the cause are considered. If 12,000 has a special meaning for Muslims then we go outside of the scope of this comment. As for the ease of getting members try this quote: The United States Department of Justice estimates there are approximately 30,000 gangs, with 760,000 members, impacting 2,500 communities across the United States.

  • Muslim says:

    “thanks; just like they also mention ash-Sham. There is also a narration about people from somewhere in Persia giving assistance to the dajjal at the time of the mahdi?
    they’ll have black turbans or something.”
    The Narration says 70000 Jews from Persia

  • davidp says:

    I know someone in the South Yemen separatist/dissident movement. They strongly assert that they are not al-Qaeda linked, and do not want a civil war. They carried banners at their protests denying the AQ link. I think they will be quite unhappy about this claim by al-Qaeda.

    The (North Yemen based) Yemen government tries to paint them as AQ to get support in attacking them – the north conquered the south in the 1994 civil war. AQ try to paint them as AQ to claim AQ has support. What is true is hard to know.

  • Civy says:

    12,000 huh? So that would be ~ 20 B1 sorties and one MEU? You really think they’d give us a stand-up fight? We can only hope….

  • Render says:

    70,000 Jews from Persia? Oh, well that’s a relief…
    There aren’t that many Jews left in Iran, are there? More Persian Jews currently live in the US and Israel then in Iran.
    I suppose it could mean the Holocaust denial Rabbi’s of NK, but there are not 70,000 of them, and there never will be.
    “Fighters” is a rather loose term. Qat chewing grandpa with his rusty old Lee-Enfield can be considered a “fighter”, at least for an hour or two.
    Any boy child strong enough to pick up and fire an AK-47 can be considered a “fighter.” And they often find themselves doing the most stupidly dangerous things, like human minesweeper.
    Anybody with two legs and shoulders to hang a bomb from can be considered a “fighter.”
    A “fighter” is not a soldier and is not a warrior. A “fighter” is an armed thug with a bad attitude.
    The crackdown on Somali piracy has directly effected the economy of Yemen in a number of ways.


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