AQAP releases video of coordinated attacks in Shabwa

“From the Battlefield: Coordinated Attacks on Several Military Locations.” Source: Youtube.

On Oct. 3, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released the latest installment of its video series documenting attacks, “From the Battlefield.” This most recent episode, “Coordinated Attacks on Several Military Locations,” includes footage of a number of AQAP attacks in the Mayfa’a region of Yemen’s southern Shabwa province.

Although the video does not specify when the attacks took place, the targets and details of the operations appear to show a coordinated attack on military installations in Shabwa that was carried out on Aug. 31.

The video begins with an on-screen message providing a justification for AQAP’s continuing campaign against the Yemeni military. The message describes the Yemeni military as “the Houthi-turned-military,” and illustrates the military’s alleged support for the Houthi rebels by claiming that Yemeni “soldiers have grown used to raising their voices with the rafidi [Shi’ite] Houthi cry during battle.”

The on-screen statement claims that AQAP has “executed tens of operations” against the Yemeni military since “the start of the oppressive campaign on Wilayat Shabwa.” The most recent and successful of these operations, according to AQAP, was a coordinated attack on “headquarters, checkpoints, and security and military locations” in the Mayfa’a region of Shabwa.

The video then pans to a gathering of AQAP fighters going over plans for the coordinated attacks. One fighter, identified as Majed al Sa’ari and also known as Abu Amal, is seen galvanizing the fighters prior to the operation. He speaks in an impassioned voice, seemingly about to break down and cry, suggesting that thousands die for “delusion” but AQAP’s fighters will be martyred “for the sake of ‘there is no God but Allah’ and in order for the whole religion [deen] to be for Allah.” Another fighter, named Abu Mohammad al Awlaki, says that AQAP’s goal is to “raise the banners of monotheism” throughout the land.

The video then shows the fighters parting from their AQAP comrades as they set out for their “operation.” The first group of fighters targeted the Kherma military barracks, located in the Mayfa’a region of Shabwa along the road connecting Azzan to al Houta, while the second group of AQAP fighters headed toward the Jissr Azzan checkpoint. Both groups attacked the military locations with light and heavy weapons, and the video shows the quick advance of the AQAP fighters’ assault.

A “support group” of AQAP fighters is also seen arriving at the attack locations after the initial groups of fighters had begun advancing on the two locations. Abu Amal, who was featured earlier in the video, is seen “martyred” during the assault of the Jissr Azzan checkpoint.

The video also shows AQAP fighters seizing armored trucks and weapons from the two locations, as well as setting fire to the Kherma military barracks following their coordinated advance. When a tank attempts to flee the scene, AQAP fighters “besiege” the tank and fire at it.

The video concludes with another on-screen message, this time outlining the results of the coordinated attacks in Shabwa. The message claims that AQAP fighters killed and wounded about 50 Yemeni soldiers and destroyed and burned a military base, barracks, and checkpoint. The statement also claims that AQAP fighters burned machinery and vehicles used by the Yemeni military, including four tanks, and seized some light weaponry and ammunition.

Shabwa has long been a stronghold for AQAP. In the past, the Yemeni military has attempted to dislodge the terrorist group from Yemen’s southern provinces, notably with offensives in 2012 and 2014. In recent weeks, AQAP has staged a series of ambush attacks targeting Yemeni soldiers in Shabwa, particularly along the Gol al Raydah-Rudhoum road. In a statement released in late September taking credit for such an attack, AQAP boldly claimed that the group’s attacks on military personnel and facilities in the Mayfa’a region of Shabwa have claimed the lives of over 50 Yemeni soldiers in about a month.

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