Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula attacked military bases in central Yemen today, killing several soldiers and seizing armored personnel carriers, according to reports from the country.
AQAP fighters killed 10 soldiers during “simultaneous attacks against three military positions” in the town of Rada’a in Baydah province, AFP reported. At least one AQAP fighter who was wearing a suicide vest was gunned down during the attack.
At least one military camp was overrun and three armored personnel carriers were taken, according to Reuters.
Rada’a was an AQAP stronghold in early 2012, when a senior AQAP leader known as Tariq al Dhahab took control of the town, raised al Qaeda’s flag, and swore allegiance to al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri. Tariq was later killed by a brother who is opposed to al Qaeda.
Another brother, known as Kaid al Dhahab, took over to serve as AQAP’s emir in the province of Baydah. The US killed Kaid in a drone strike in Baydah on Aug. 30.
The US accidentally killed 15 civilians in a drone strike in Rada’a on Dec. 15. Yemeni officials said that a senior AQAP operative was targeted in the strike.
AQAP has successfully overrun military bases and confiscated armored vehicles in the past. In one of the most brazen attacks, in March 2012, an AQAP assault team penetrated security at a military base in Al Koud in Abyan province, killed 185 soldiers, and seized several APCs.
AQAP has continued to launch suicide assaults, bombings, and assassinations throughout Yemen. On Dec. 5, 2013, a large suicide team of AQAP fighters penetrated security at the Ministry of Defense in the capital of Sana’a. The suicide assault resulted in the deaths of 52 people, including foreign doctors and nurses, and 11 AQAP fighters. AQAP claimed that the assault targeted the US-run “operation rooms” for the drone program in Yemen.
Other recent high-profile suicide assaults include: the Sept. 20 , 2013 suicide assaults against three military bases in Shabwa province; a raid on military headquarters in Mukallah in Hadramout on Sept. 30, 2013 (the base was held by the AQAP fighters for days before the military retook control); and the Oct. 18, 2013 suicide assault on a military training center in Abyan.
The suicide assault, or coordinated attack using multiple suicide bombers and an assault team, is a tactic used by al Qaeda and its allies, including the Afghan Taliban, the Pakistani Taliban, and the Lashkar-e-Taiba. Suicide assault are commonly executed in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Somalia.
US intelligence officials believe that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula remains a direct threat to the homeland. The terror group has planned multiple attacks against targets in the US. A drone strike in Yemen 2011 year killed both Anwar al Awlaki, the radical, US-born cleric who plotted attacks against the US, and Samir Khan, another American who served as a senior AQAP propagandist. AQAP master bomb maker Ibrahim Hassan Tali al Asiri, who was behind the failed Christmas Day 2009 airliner attack as well as the design for an underwear bomb that is nearly undetectable and was to be detonated on an airliner, remains at the top of the US’ target list.
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