The Islamic State has released an audio message from Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. It is the first message from Baghdadi in nearly one year. Baghdadi frames the wars being fought in Iraq and elsewhere in sectarian terms and says that his men are waging a “grand jihad” against their many enemies.
The US military launched missile strikes on three radar sites in a Houthi-controlled area of Yemen. The strikes came in response to two attacks on the USS Mason earlier this week. The Houthis’ insurgency in Yemen is backed by Iran and has greatly complicated US counterterrorism efforts.
Hamza bin Laden, Osama’s son, criticizes Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen in a newly released audio message. Hamza claims that the Saudi campaign has aided Houthi rebels by interfering in Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s war against them. He calls on Muslims to overthrow the Saudi government.
The Taliban’s condemnation is not surprising as it has relied on Saudi Arabia as a source for fundraising and other support to fuel the Afghan insurgency.
The State Department’s newly released Country Reports on Terrorism for 2015 suggests that several Gulf States still have a lot of work to do when it comes to terrorist fundraising.
There are now eight Islamic State branches throughout the world designated by the US as terrorist entities – Khorasan, or Afghanistan and Pakistan; the Caucasus; the Egyptian Sinai; Algeria; and Nigeria.
The Defense Department announced the transfer of nine Yemeni detainees from Guantanamo to Saudi Arabia on April 16. The transferred detainees include a man who was allegedly one of Osama bin Laden’s bodyguards, the brother of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) current emir, and a jihadist the Obama administration determined was “too dangerous to transfer but not feasible for prosecution.”
All of the entities targeted by Saudi Arabia also stand accused by the U.S. of bolstering Hezbollah’s military influence, including in areas that could be used against Saudi Arabia or Saudi proxies in places such as Syria or Yemen.