On March 31, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) announced the formation of a new armed group called “Ansar al Shariah in the Central Regions.” The militant organization claimed that the new group’s purpose is to combat the Shiite Houthi rebels based in Yemen’s northern Sa’adah province. The announcement also included sharp criticism of the Yemeni government and alleged that Sana’a was involved in a conspiracy aiming to strengthen the Shiite insurgents.
Sa’adah province has been the site of an ongoing Houthi insurgency against the central government in Sana’a since 2004, when the Yemeni military killed Hussein Badr al Deen al Houthi, the Shiite group’s commander. AQAP inaugurated Ansar al Sharia in 2012 in an effort to rebrand itself and garner more support for the terrorist organization. This new armed group is likely a subgroup of Ansar al Sharia expressly focused on attacks targeting the Houthis.
The terror group’s statement also mentioned the March 28 raid by the Yemeni military on an apartment housing AQAP operatives in al Dalea province, saying it was part of the conspiracy against al Qaeda that served Houthi interests. “The East and the West are involved” in the conspiracy, AQAP charged, and urged Sunnis everywhere to wake up and realize the extent of the conspiracy. Additionally, the statement directly threatened both the Yemeni security forces and the Houthi rebels.