In addition to the updated strike total for Yemen, the response is interesting as it notes that AQAP operatives are not the only target of the air campaign: the US military is hitting the entirety of the network.
The US military has stepped up its campaign against AQAP, but has not been forthcoming about its targeting of the group as it has in Somalia.
CENTCOM announced today that Abu Khattab al Awlaqi, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s emir for the Shabwah province in Yemen, was killed along with two associates in a June 16 airstrike that targeted “terrorist compounds and attack networks in Yemen.”
The operation took place just days after the US Treasury Department listed two tribal leaders from Marib as global terrorists for supporting al Qaeda.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) presented its written “Worldwide Threat Assessment” to the Senate last week. The analysis confirms that the Islamic State is capable of sustaining insurgencies in both Iraq and Syria, Afghan security continues to “deteriorate,” and al Qaeda remains a threat in several parts of the globe.
In a short video released yesterday, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) leader, Qasim al Raymi, reiterated his group’s call for “lone mujahid” attacks in the West. AQAP was an early innovator of the concept of “individual jihad,” but has been eclipsed by its rivals in the Islamic State in recent years. Raymi is attempting to move AQAP back to the fore of the “lone mujahid” effort.
AQAP released a lengthy “dialogue” with its emir, Qasim al Raymi, on April 30. Raymi discusses the complex war inside Yemen, AQAP’s desire to focus on the Houthis and his group’s general approach to waging jihad. He also cites a text written by Ayman al Zawahiri to explain why AQAP cooperates with other Islamists inside Yemen.
The US has now launched more than 75 airstrikes in Yemen since the beginning of the year, almost double the yearly total since the drone program against al Qaeda in Yemen began in 2009.