AQAP vows to fight ‘in the cities of the enemy and its capitals’

One day after al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula retreated from its key strongholds of Zinjibar and Jaar in Abyan province, the group released a statement vowing to take the fight into “the cities of the enemy and its capitals.” AQAP again stated that it withdrew from Jaar to spare civilians and preserve its forces. AQAP also railed against the Yemeni government for taking assistance from “the foreigners from among the Americans, the French, the British and other Crusaders” who “are assisted by some of our own people from the agents, hypocrites and apostates ….”

Below is an excerpt of the statement, which has been obtained and translated by the SITE Intelligence group.

We did not withdraw out of weakness, praise and gratitude be to Allah, but to shuffle the cards of the enemy and make it miss its aim in the war and the destruction. Allah permitting, we will take the battle to quick operations and painful strikes in the cities of the enemy and its capitals, so that the battle will be in its place and so that the enemy would wish they had never fought us…

We say to the agent government:

The battle had been far away from your palaces and administration, but you believed the falsehoods of American policy, and their money has made you arrogant… As for us, this has been a year of preparation for the leaders, experts, and martyrdom-seekers, so await the battle in your palaces. The Americans will not help you any longer.

AQAP will probably not be able to hold its remaining strongholds in Shaqra and Azzan, assuming that the government remains focused and the Yemeni military can consolidate its gains in Zinjibar and Jaar, regroup, and push forward. The AQAP statement’s threat of “quick operations and painful strikes” is likely a reference to suicide attacks, IED strikes, ambushes, and other operations as AQAP shifts its focus from open warfare against the Yemeni state to a shadow terrorist insurgency. AQAP will likely remain in control of remote areas in southern Yemen, just as the Taliban does in Afghanistan and Shabaab does in Somalia.

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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  • Will Fenwick says:

    I’m sure there are sleeper cells in Zinjibar and Jaar waiting to be activated, i would expect AQAP to switch to a more guerrilla warfare type strategy now as the Salafists did in Somalia after the fall of the Islamic Courts Union.
    It will be interesting to see what happens in the north once the situation AQAP gets under control. Will the Houthis join with the government or turn into a Iranian backed state within a state like Hezbollah is in Lebanon.

  • mike merlom says:

    It sounds like Saudi Arabia itself (Jeddah, Riydah?) is ‘scheduled’ for some ‘attention.’ The fact that the Saudi Mufti & the old gas bag, King Abdullah, that runs the place have of late been at odds with each other surely is something meriting more than just casual attention. The fact that AQ has solid presence along both sides of the Red Sea plus the Sinai & a reemerged/rejuvenated Iraqi ‘franchise’ should at the very least have those tasked to monitor this activity seriously paying attention.

  • johnny says:

    “…..this has been a year of preparation for the leaders, experts, and martyrdom-seekers…..”
    We should really worry about this part of the statement…..seems they knew all along they wouldn’t be able to hold territory for long…..what they had planned may very well have been to make the best possible use of the time and physical space to prepare for terrorist activities….explicitly inside the country….and implicitly outside!
    In retrospect, the botched attempts by aqap so far seems to me to have simply been test runs…..i suspect something larger is coming….

  • Neo says:

    I think the simplest conclusion about al Qaeda’s latest setback is the simplest one. The new Yemeni government showed everyone something rarely seen in the middle east these days; competence. I’m not talking about expertise, I’m talking about using what little resources you have to your best advantage. (with a little help from your friends) Nobody saw it coming, most especially AQAP. If it sticks, it’s a huge setback for them.

  • Bungo says:

    If you can find it, you have to watch the recent Frontine (PBS) show of a few weeks ago titlted (I believe) “Al Queda in Yemen”. It was very informative. A youngish Arabic speaking journalist went into Jaar and some other occupied towns and filmed them and interviewed them and analyzed the Yemen military as well.
    After watching it I was struck at how unprepared AQ was for any assault by any military force. I knew that the only reasons they were allowed to occupy (and terrorize) these villages was that they were literally in the middle of nowhere and that the Yemen military didn’t want to be bothered.
    Apparantly somebody lit a fire and decided to gas up the trucks and take a drive. That’s really all it would take.
    As a side note has anyone heard or read anything about what happened to the 50 Yemen military prisoners AQ had in Jaar?
    AQ is getting their tails whipped by any measure you want to use. Sure, they’ll try and sneak some suiciders in here and there but they’re going to have a real tough time regaining any momentum.
    The real question mark is the stability of the Yemen government and capability and determination of the military. Both are very wobbly at best.

  • Jim says:

    I agree with Neo. My hat’s off to the Yemini govt. It was a few weeks ago that they got hit with one of the most devastating suicide operations ever, killing ~ 100 soldiers at a parade. I fully expected the Yemini government to knuckle under after a hit like that, but instead the devastation seems to have deepened their resolve (along with the rank and file of the Yemini army). IMO, this is not over by a long shot but if the Yemini govt holds this territory it will be a major setback for AQAP.


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