On May 23, Al-Badr Media Foundation announced its presence online, saying it will work to serve the interests of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and its supporters in several ways. AQAP remains under pressure and its media output has been degraded by a US-led campaign. Al-Badr is AQAP’s latest attempt to improve the group’s security measures and boost fighter morale.
Two regional combatant commands acknowledged reports of civilian casualties in recent operations.
The US military has conducted 27 counterterrorism strikes in Yemen in 2018, but has only provided complete information on two. One of the strikes hit an AQAP training camp in Hadramout.
Since late April, Shabaab has released a series of videos emphasizing its place in al Qaeda’s global network. Two of the videos were recorded by the group’s emir, Abu Ubaydah Ahmad Umar, a normally reclusive figure. Abu Ubaydah refers to the Taliban’s emir as the “Commander of the Faithful” and Ayman al Zawahiri as the “father-emir” while addressing the mujahideen in Syria and Yemen.
The military has not produced detailed press releases for any strikes this year, continuing 2017’s limited transparency.
In his latest message, Hamza bin Laden warns that Shiites are expanding throughout the Middle East and claims that the Saudi government is incapable of stopping them. Hamza calls upon Muslims to support the jihadists in Yemen. He also criticizes the relationship between the Saudis and the US.
The US military has launched 22 airstrikes against al Qaeda int he Arabian Peninsula and the Islamic State’s Yemeni branch, a spokesman told FDD’s Long War Journal.
The State Department has added Khalid Batarfi, an al Qaeda veteran and senior al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) leader, to the US government’s list of specially designated global terrorists. Batarfi threatened the US and Jews in a video released by AQAP just yesterday.
Ibrahim al Qosi, a former Guantanamo detainee, is one of three senior AQAP leaders featured in a video released this week titled, “Secrets, its Dangers and the Departure of the Best of Us.” The video is focused on the US drone campaign and the jihadists’ lapses in security.
CENTCOM identified the AQAP operatives who were killed as “key Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leaders.” Their responsibilities included “external operations facilitator,” an operative who paves the way for attacks outside of Yemen, an arms facilitator, and a member of its proselytizing council.
Pro al Qaeda jihadists reported on social media that Abu Hajar al-Makki, an Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) propaganda official, was killed in a US drone strike earlier this week. The US has been targeting AQAP’s propagandists throughout the year and has also done so in the past.
Al Qaeda’s general leadership and regional branches have released statements denouncing the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The US Treasury Department and several Gulf States announced today that eight jihadists in Yemen have been designated as terrorists. The newly-sanctioned terrorists serve either the Islamic State’s Yemeni branch, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or both.
The Pentagon announced today that “dozens” of Islamic State jihadists were killed during a strike on two training camps in Yemen. The Islamic State regularly advertises its presence in Yemen, including a camp named after the group’s deceased spokesman.
The 17th edition of AQAP’s Inspire magazine provides a how-to guide for building a train derailment device. Al Qaeda has plotted against trains in the West in the past.
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 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.
Hamza bin Laden, the son of Osama, has released a new audio message in which he provides “advice for martyrdom seekers in the West.” Hamza’s message was disseminated less than a week after Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leader Qasim al Raymi released a similar call for individual attacks in the West.
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.
On March 9, Thomas Joscelyn testified before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. The hearing, “Resolving the Conflict in Yemen: U.S. Interests, Risks, and Policy,” was called to explore the political dynamics of the ongoing war in Yemen, as well as the roles played by foreign actors and al Qaeda.
The Pentagon announced today that a former Guantanamo detainee, Yasir al Silmi, was killed in a bombing on Mar. 2 in Yemen. Joint Task Force Guantanamo identified al Silmi, also known as Muhammad Yasir Ahmed Taher, as a “high” risk and warned that he would “engage in extremist activities upon release.” He was transferred to Yemen on Dec. 19, 2009.
Al Qaeda agitated for Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman’s release from a US prison for more than 20 years. Rahman, whose teachings had a significant influence on al Qaeda’s development, was convicted in 1995 of conspiring to attack several New York City landmarks.
The seventh issue of Al Qaeda’s Al Nafir Bulletin, which was released earlier today, denounced the recent American counterterrorism raid in Yemen. The group’s statement portrayed the operation as an assault on all Muslims and threatened President Donald Trump, saying “the flame of jihad has ignited and reached all over the world.”
One US soldier was killed and three more were injured during a raid in central Yemen. Adbulrauf al Dhahab, a senior Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leader, and 13 other fighters were reportedly killed in the operation.
The State Department has designated Ibrahim al Banna as a terrorist. Al Banna has served as an al Qaeda official in Yemen since the 1990s. He originally joined the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) and has been one of Ayman al Zawahiri’s loyalists for decades.
The US has now launched 37 airstrikes against AQAP in 2016, the largest yearly total since 2012 (41 strikes).
A new video from the Taliban features several images and clips of al Qaeda leaders, further demonstrating that the two remain firmly allied more than 15 years after the 9/11 hijackings.
The US Treasury Department announced the designations of two “key facilitators” for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) today. A charity that is really a “front organization” for AQAP and has collected funds from Gulf businessmen was also designated. Treasury has systematically targeted AQAP’s support network throughout the year and today’s announcement is part of a series of related moves.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released its most recent statistics on Guantanamo recidivism this week. 208 former detainees are either confirmed or suspected of rejoining the jihad. 188 of them were transferred or released during the Bush administration and the remaining 20 by the Obama administration. The estimated number of recidivists has steadily climbed since 2008, when the government first provided statistics on this topic.