US steps up attacks against AQAP

The US military launched another airstrike against al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen in late September, killing at least one member of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

From the US Central Command (CENTCOM) statement that was released on Oct. 4:

The U.S. military successfully struck an al Qaeda target in the Arabian Peninsula, Sept. 29, in a remote area of Al Baydah Governate, Yemen, injuring one terrorist and killing another.

“The United States is committed to supporting security and stability in the region,” said Army Maj. Josh T. Jacques, U.S. Central Command spokesman. “We will take every measure available to degrade their ability to conduct operations.”

“Airstrikes carried out by the U.S. and coalition partners hinder AQAP’s ability to freely move throughout Yemen.” Jacques said. “Anyone who chooses to involve themselves with AQAP accepts the risks of supporting terrorism.”

Reuters reported on Sept. 29 that “two senior members of al Qaeda’s Yemen branch were killed” in a drone strike in Al Baydah, but did not name the AQAP leaders.

AQAP has not yet issued martyrdom statements for any of its leaders.

The US has stepped up its air campaign against AQAP in Yemen. The US has targeted AQAP’s network in Yemen at least four times in September, and 28 times so far this year, according to data compiled by The Long War Journal. In 2016, the US has exceeded the number of strikes of each of the three previous years (26 strikes in 2013, 23 each in 2014 and 2015). Since 2009, the US has launched 157 drone, missile, and conventional strikes against AQAP. [See LWJ report, Charting the data for US airstrikes in Yemen, 2002 – 2016.]

In past announcements of attacks against AQAP, CENTCOM has stated that the group AQAP remains a “significant threat” to the United States and its allies, and continues to plot attacks against the US.

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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