On May 26, a statement by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) commander Jalal al Marqishi, also known as Hamza al Zinjibari, surfaced on jihadi forums. The statement, titled “A Comment on the Latest American Bombardment of Yemen,” begins with a request that Allah accept as martyrs those killed by the American “bombardment campaigns” that occurred “last week” in Baydha, Abyan, and Shabwa. Marqishi is likely referring to the Yemeni army’s southern offensive against AQAP, which he sees as serving American interests. The latest known US drone strike in Yemen took place on May 12 in Marib.
Marqishi states that this latest “bombardment” is, in his perspective, just the most recent round in the war between Islam and the “Zio-Crusader enemy and its agents.” Marqishi disputes Yemeni government and media claims suggesting that AQAP is being hit hard by the offensive, and says that “the mujahideen and their leaders are, by Allah’s grace, in the best of states.” He also denies media claims that the Yemeni military killed three AQAP operatives, including a commander, during the course of a Yemeni military strike on an AQAP vehicle traveling in Shabwa. This may be a reference to reports released by the Yemeni Ministry of Defense on May 18 that the Yemeni military killed five AQAP militants including a commander known as Miqdad in Shabwa. At any rate, Marqishi calls claims of the death of an AQAP commander “flagrant lie[s],” although he does acknowledge that three militants were killed.
Next, Marqishi addresses the “American enemy.” He reminds America of Great Britain’s fate in Yemen, and says: “Ask gray-haired Britain why she left Yemen fleeing? [The British] used plans as you have, they employed spies as you have …. You are walking along the same course and you will end at the same fate.” Marqishi emphasizes that just as “our grandfathers fought Britain and its agents,” so too will AQAP wage jihad against the Americans and “incite Muslims to do so.”
Then Marqishi turns his attention to the Yemeni government and notes that before the anti-AQAP offensive began, the Yemeni Minister of Defense along with military and press delegations visited their “masters in Washington.” Marqishi argues that “instead of providing the alleged aid to the poor nation,” the Yemeni government “brought upon them … tribulation, bombardment, and destruction.” He says the Yemeni government “chose to participate” in America’s war in Yemen and that it plays the role of the “agent and spy.” Marqishi predicts that America will flee Yemen and abandon its agents there just as it did in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
Marqishi criticizes the Yemeni government for not defending the Sunnis in northern Yemen who are subjected to the crimes of Houthi Shiites. “Where is the the alleged nationalism of the military, and where is its expected role?” Marqishi asks. “Or is it [the military] a rifle that points only with American will?” Marqishi made the same accusations about the Yemeni government in a March 20 audio message titled “The Yemeni Government: Treason and Betrayal.” There, Marqishi accused the Yemeni government of acting as “a proxy for American interests” and of imprisoning Sunnis instead of protecting them from attacks by the Zaydi Houthis.
Concluding his most recent statement, Marqishi reaffirms that AQAP’s jihad against the Americans and their Yemeni agents will continue and “will not be rebuffed by the machinations of the sly, and will not be weakened by the plans of plotters.” He declares: “We will not put down our weapons – with Allah’s permission – until the usurped rights of our Muslim nation are returned, we overpower the occupier and repel the aggressor, and the ummah is ruled by Shar’iah.”
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This guy couldn’t be more wrong. US engagement in Yemen is already within the blueprint the US has set for all future operations against extremists and cave dwellers in the coming century. Far from letting up, the US will likely intensify its role in Yemeni counter-terror operations in the coming years.
If you want to picture what the US will be doing in other countries in the years to come, take a look at Yemen now.
Things must be really bad for AQAP for them to be reduced to this kind of desperate chest thumping.