The US State Department announced today that it is offering rewards for information on two senior AQAP leaders: Qasim al-Raymi and Khalid al-Batarfi. Both men attended al Qaeda’s training camps in pre-9/11 Afghanistan before assuming leadership roles in Yemen.
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.
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.
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.
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.