Media as a Weapon: Al Qaeda fii Al Islamiya Maghreb


By Brandon Scott

Written in 2010

Algeria, 0930 hours, December 11th 2007: A suicide bomber blows the front off a building that was home to the Algeria’s Constitutional Council. Barely ten minutes later, another bomber attacked a United Nations building using a “truck containing 1,800 pounds of explosives” effectively leveling part of the structure. The death total was forty-two people,”including 17 U.N. employees” with another 158 other injured courtesy of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb or AQIM.[i] Read More



10 Gitmo detainees from Yemen sent to Oman

Egypt extends participation in Yemen conflict

After 25 years, Saudi Embassy officially reopens in Baghdad

Three Qaeda suspects ‘killed in Yemen drone strike’

AQIM takes Australian couple hostage in northern Burkina Faso

US confirms Americans kidnapped in Baghdad

It’s been 25 years since the start of Operation Desert Storm

Al Qaeda Attacks in Burkina Faso Kill at Least 30

Oil slides to lowest since 2003 as Iran sanctions lifted

Sanctions lifted after Iran found in compliance on nuclear deal


Sanaa Cityscape

Sana’a, Yemen

Worry not; the world is still falling apart. BBC reported an original attack in Jakarta: Jakarta attacks: Bombs and gunfire rock Indonesian capital Which is particularly ironic following the fanfare that The Atlantic’s article “ISIS in the World’s Largest Muslim Country- Why are so few Indonesians joining the Islamic State?” got.

As the SOTU played out Iran was detaining 10 US Navy Sailors as a near PR stunt. And as such they were released soon after: Iran releases 10 US Navy sailors after boat drifted in Persian Gulf. If half of your Facebook friends are like mine there much anger and social media promises to seek revenge against Iran once social media comment at a time.

OPSEC being what it is, the US announced that “Special U.S. targeting force ‘now in place’ in Iraq.” Good thing they are not ya know, like a secret force.

In the wake of the continued Iran-Saudi Charlie Foxtrot, Saudi has called in its chips from Sunni allies, including the nascently stabilizing Somalia. And as such Iran received some blow back when an Iranian Aid Agency Looted In Somalia After African Nation Cuts Ties With Tehran.

As Nigeria continues to face security troubles with Boko Haram, it is reported that UK Sends Troops To Train Nigerian Soldiers.

Russia is continually nervous about the implosion of Afghanistan and as such decided that sending more guns will help: Russia to send small arms to Afghanistan

Turkey already pinned between a Europe and a hardplace and just facing a notable terrorist attack, has seen yet another attack in there southern region: Deadly car bomb hits police HQ near Diyarbakir, Turkey.

In case you thought Al Qaeda was gone – wait who is Al Qaeda? Yeah, they are still around releasing podcasts in the glorious shadow of ISIL: Al Qaeda releases 3 new messages from Ayman al Zawahiri

Recent reporting has illustrated an increase of instability coming out of India. The small yet potent Islamic minority there continues to produce some unsavory extremists as of late: Arrested in Syria, four Indian youths ‘planning to join ISIS’

#AQAP Announces Formation of New Armed Group in #Yemen

#AQAP Announces Formation of New Armed Group in #Yemen

Well this is shitty. If AQAP begins to specifically target Houthis and Shia in Yemen via “Ansar al Shariah in the Central Regions”, particularly outside of Sa’ada we will probably see the beginning of civil war. Hitherto, there has been little sectarian violence in Yemen outside of the past Sa’ada conflicts and the current one still simmering that picked back up last year. The Salafists in Sa’ada were wise to reject AQAP’s support (at least publicly) when they offered it last year. It seems that AQAP is now paralleling / forcing the support to target the Houthis and Shia in Yemen. Being that AQAP does not really have much reach into Sa’ada and is mostly in the south en-mass and occasionally in Sana’a (all places where there is limited sectarian divide, we are likely going to see dramatic increased sectarian violence outside of Sa’ada which will pose grave dangers for the new post-NDC Yemen. This scenario is reminiscent of 2006 al-Askari Mosque bombing in Iraq that many argue was done by Al Qaeda and subsequently caused an all out civil war between Sunnis and Shia.

Update on #Yemen ( #NDC #AQAP #AlQaeda )

With the end of the NDC (National Dialogue Conference) in Yemen, we have seen a lot heat up in the country. Notable violence seemed to kick off with the MOD attack, along with significant word on the street of something simmering though a bit quiet. Quiet until the most recent events that began with a flurry of bombings – 4 in one day – on Monday, 3 February; and this dovetailed into 2 Westerners getting kidnapped (a Brit and a German), and then a bus with Yemeni soldiers being attacked. The last week has been intense for Yemen with the security paradigm being challenged. On top of all this, AQAP is threatening to kill one of two hostages they took some time ago (one having been previously released).

Though the international community is heralding the successes of the NDC, there is much left to be desired for the implementation of NDC and GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) efforts and recommendations. The real challenge will be what happens now after this process. Clearly the diverse factions meddling with the peace process are leveraging what they can to acquire their objectives any means necessary.

Counter-Terrorism: How To Maintain Your Essential Nastiness

This is a great recap write-up of Al Qaeda on a global scale – reposted from here:

November 29, 2013: Al Qaeda has survived over a decade of heavy attack, and losses, by adopting a number of successful strategies. The most important of these is the continued use of international media to keep people (largely disaffected Moslems and Western leftists looking for a new lost cause) informed about how the terrorist group is still around. Maintaining such visibility is essential for recruiting. Al Qaeda has always recruited from the least educated and most desperate Moslem men out there. Religious fervor was not crucial but the willingness to suffer and die was. These recruits are attracted to the image of al Qaeda as being constantly active, no matter what damage they suffer.

Also important, for older, more affluent, and less desperate supporters, was a willingness to help out with cash or access to needed resources. The new recruits and other contributions were only forthcoming if al Qaeda could demonstrate that it was active. Thus there is a constant need for new “actions” (assassinations, bombings, prison breaks, and other media-worthy events) to remind wealthy fans of Islamic radicalism that cash keeps it all going.

The core leadership has always contained some technically adept people who recognized how the media worked and appreciated how new technology was changing that. So it should not be surprising that al Qaeda is now a heavy user of Twitter and other social media sites. Even though many of these sites do not welcome al Qaeda, the Islamic terrorists keep at it and maintain a presence in high-traffic areas. Much of this is made possible by Internet-savvy volunteers who don’t want to blow themselves up but are willing to risk (and it is not a big risk) arrest by working from home to serve the cause and keep al Qaeda visible on the Internet and thus in the mass media.

Al Qaeda leadership has also been responsive to what works and what doesn’t, even if many of their subordinates are content to keep making the same mistakes over and over again. Thus, for the last decade the senior leadership has been pushing (with mixed success) the idea of using violence infrequently but with more recision and concentrate on addressing the needs of the people. Al Qaeda still wants to conquer the world but has noticed that creating a religious dictatorship too soon does not work. The support of most of the people is more important, and that’s a concept that young recruits have a hard time appreciating. But after the defeats in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Mali, even the young guys are coming to accept that the road to victory is not littered with the bodies of innocent Moslem women and children. These things take time if you want to make a lasting impression.

Another survival technique was franchising, becoming regional, rather than international. Thus the original al Qaeda is back where it was founded three decades ago, in the tribal territories of northwest Pakistan. Here, about a thousand members (many of them married into local tribes and semi-retired) manage to protect supreme leader Ayman al Zawahiri, along with a shrinking network of training camps and safe houses. About ten percent of these al Qaeda men are actually in eastern Afghanistan but are even less active. Al Qaeda is tolerated by the Pakistani government, as long as it does no (or very little) violence inside Pakistan. Thus the relatively large number of al Qaeda operatives “retiring” to the tribal territories. Many did this to survive growing hostility from local tribes against the largely foreign al Qaeda members. In the last decade over a thousand foreign al Qaeda men (mainly Arabs and Central Asians) have been killed by local tribesmen for, well, not getting along with the locals. Many al Qaeda members fled, and this played a part in the development of the two major al Qaeda branches that emerged over the last decade in Yemen and North Africa. 

AQAP (al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) has suffered heavy losses in the last year. AQAP was formed in 2009, after the remnants of the Saudi al Qaeda organization (several thousand full and part time members) fled to Yemen and merged with the Yemeni al Qaeda branch. AQAP also benefitted from hundreds of Iraqi al Qaeda members who arrived after the defeat of al Qaeda in Iraq in 2007-8. Growing unrest in Yemen (against the long-standing Saleh dictatorship) enabled AQAP to recruit locally and take over several towns in the south by 2011. Then the new post-Saleh government launched a counteroffensive in 2012 and AQAP got hurt very badly. That offensive continues, along with the growing use of American UAVs in Yemen. At the same time there are few other places for defeated al Qaeda men to flee to. The sanctuary in Mali was destroyed in early 2013, by a French led offensive. The sanctuary in Pakistan (North Waziristan) is hostile to active al Qaeda and mainly for local Islamic terrorists. Surviving al Qaeda men are increasingly operating in isolation and under heavy attack. Sometimes, as is happening now in Syria, they attack each other. While the al Qaeda situation is desperate in Yemen, AQAP is still al Qaeda’s most capable branch and the only one that has shown any ability to support attacks (few successful so far) in the West.

In North Africa there were three major Islamic radical groups, as well as some smaller ones at the end of 2012. Ansar Dine was originally from Mali and led by Tuareg Islamic radicals. MOJAO (Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa) is from neighboring Mauritania. It is largely composed of black African Islamic radicals and led by Mauritanians. The largest of the three is AQIM (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb) which has members from all over North Africa but mostly from Algeria. MOJAO is basically a Mauritanian faction of AQIM and there was always some ethnic and racial tension between the two groups. AQIM has the most money and weapons and used this to exercise some control over the other two major radical groups (who outnumbered AQIM in Mali).

AQIM and MOJAO were sometimes at odds with Ansar Dine, which felt it should be in charge in Mali because it is Malian. Until late 2012, all three groups cooperated in order to maintain their control of northern Mali. Then the alliance began to weaken under the pressure of an imminent counter offensive. AQIM brought in reinforcements from Morocco, Western Sahara, Algeria, Pakistan, Egypt, Yemen, Nigeria, and Sudan and threatened the other Islamic terrorist groups if they did not do as they were told. AQIM wanted to run everything, and all the cash they got from drug dealing and kidnapping gave AQIM a lot of power, both to buy weapons and hire locals. Most of those new recruits deserted as their employers fled the advancing French in January 2013. The French led invasion was a crushing blow to AQIM, just like the Yemen offensive in 2012 was to AQAP. None of the Islamic terrorists in Mali were the same after the French offensive in early 2013.

In the wake of the Mali disaster Islamic terrorists in North Africa reorganized. AQIM relocated to southern Libya while Ansar Dine, especially the Tuareg leadership, faded back into the many Tuareg living in the Sahel (the semi-desert region between the Sahara Desert and the tropical forests to the south). In mid-2013, two North African Islamic terrorist factions merged to create a new group: Al Mourabitoun. This new group has been operating mainly in Niger. One of the merger partners is an al Qaeda splinter group led by Mokhtar Belmokhtar (the planner of the January, 2013 natural gas facility attack in southern Algeria that got 37 workers and 32 terrorists killed). Belmokhtar has a reputation for always escaping the many efforts to kill or capture him. Belmokhtar was number two or three in AQIM but formed his own splinter group in late 2012. Belmokhtar’s faction survived the French invasion. The other component of Al Mourabitoun comes from MOJWA. This merger was another aftereffect of the French led invasion.

Within months of the French attack hundreds of experienced Islamic terrorists scattered and slowly reorganized via email, cell phones, and hand-carried documents. Recruiting took a big hit as the Islamic “government” in northern Mali showed once more that Islamic radicals cannot stand up to professional soldiers and their governing methods tend to turn the population against them. This caused over a thousand AQIM members to desert, while nearly 500 were killed in the Mali fighting. Hundreds of local Islamic terrorists (Tuaregs, MOJWA, and other black Africans from countries in the region) stayed in northern Mali and continue to try carrying out a terrorist attacks.

There are a few larger groups of these Islamic terrorists still wandering around the far north but they were hunted by French aircraft and hit with smart bombs until most fled to neighboring countries. Some of these Islamic terrorists have renounced their alliance with al Qaeda and sought to evade attack by just being another group of Tuareg separatists. Most of the still functional Islamic terrorists have reformed in Niger, Tunisia, and Libya. Many individual terrorists made their way to Syria, which is the next-big-thing for murderous religious radicals.

Despite the senior leadership remaining in Pakistan, the most active, and dangerous, international terrorism operations are coming out of AQAP. AQIM survives by becoming a drug gang that smuggles various narcotics to North Africa and Europe. As a result of this, al Qaeda is urging Islamic radicals everywhere to try and organize and carry out terrorism operations wherever they are. Thus even some large al Qaeda organizations (like the ones in Iraq and Syria) are devoting all their energies to killing people (mostly fellow Moslems) where they are and not in the West (which al Qaeda Central would prefer).

More importantly, al Qaeda leaders have recognized that the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011, and the subsequent hostility towards Islamic radicals, represented a fundamental change in the Moslem world, a change al Qaeda would have to adapt to or be crushed by. So al Qaeda is adapting while still maintaining its essential nastiness.

Human Rights Watch Drones On…



In a recent blog post published by the Human Rights Watch at The Huffington Post they discuss their recently published report “Between a Drone and Al-Qaeda: The Civilian Cost of US Targeted Killings in Yemen”. This report is causing serious waves throughout international media (I literally monitor Google News for all items containing the term “Yemen”) with a huge explosion of articles, blog posts and commentary across the digital media world. After reading a few of these I came across the HRW blog post which seems to have the best summary of the report (inshallah, it is written by themselves). Reading the post I was aghast at the number of points either taken out of context, completely based off limited information and just plain biased reporting. Let’s go through their report and see where they failed horribly at spreading such a scandalous report that is being cited around the world as proof of “international war crimes.”

Drones are Not the Problem

“Yemenis told us that these strikes make them fear the US as much as they fear Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula”

This is such an exaggerated quote it is disheartening for all writers, journalists and researchers out there. Walk the streets in Yemen on any day and talk to the people. Sure, they idea of strikes is unnerving and as a semi-nationalist public with firm beliefs in territorialism they generally disdain the strikes. However, I assure you this is not in the forefront of their minds nor concerns on a daily basis.  Most people in Yemen are focused on bringing home the bacon milk so to speak. Their concerns are zeroed in on work, school, family and religion. They number one issue in Yemen that directly impacts via hindrance is power cuts (internet, water and food are there too). Of course when it comes to

In the Arab World’s poorest country, it is not “drone strikes” that are the cause of the nation’s problems, instead it is something far more average; something most academics who sit at desks writing, seem too often to forget about: as one Yemeni stated “We are hungry and we need jobs.” Frankly, I find it appalling and arrogant for a group of such disconnected individuals to really think that the Drone UAV Campaign is the greatest issue facing Yemen.

I would have written and published this piece much sooner had it not been for extensive power & internet outages here in Yemen Since starting this I have been without power for arguably a cumulative 3 daysout of water for 1.5 days and without internet access for something like 4 days. I assure you the average Yemeni is far less concerned about a Hellfire missile than this report makes one believe. In a place where you have arguably far more disturbing things to worry about and far more common issues such as lack of utilities and a near crisis level of starvation a drone taking you out is of little consequence particularly considering the infrequency of occurrences.

The focus on these strikes as opposed to the real problems that affect Yemen, are missed completely, but then again, the real problems don’t make for good site hits, link-backs and viral media. Because in the end it is critiques like this that succumb to the same needs as any online brand – the need for readership. Let us take a look at the issues that affect Yemenis far more than the remote fear of a Hellfire missile falling out of the sky.

Recently, Yemen was listed as one of 16 countries classified as having “alarming” levels of hunger, according to the Global Hunger Index. Food scarcity and inflation is far more a dire situation in Yemen than any buzzing sound up above. So to the critiques of the US UAV program I ask you – What are you doing about this? Because from a US perspective I can tell you that America is doing something about it. It was reported that the final 42,000 metric ton flour donation to the UN World Food Programme (WFP) from the United States Government’s Food for Peace office. The wheat will be milled in Hodeida before being distributed by WFP to some of the 600,000 Yemenis displaced by conflict and instability.

In a country where it is known that poverty is often a driver of instability, why do so many critiques fail to annotate the connection between AQAP and much of the poverty over all. Look at how Yemen’s oil revenues declined to $585 Million from its comparable period last year. Take note of the citation: “The repeated attacks on the oil pipeline linked production blocks in Marib province and the refinery in Hodeida affected significantly the quantity of the crude oil production of designed for domestic consumption.”

How about those critics try to focus on how much money AQAP and its affiliated supporters is costing the Yemeni government and how this impacts the people of Yemen who are just trying to get by day to day.

Yemen’s poor people — around half the country’s population — do not have much of a voice at the talks. Like the woman in the video, many do not even know what the dialogue is. Instead, they are scrambling to make enough money to eat.

Our Policy is Not Drones

The media’s completely biased and hyperbole surrounding the use of UAV strikes is greatly hindering the problems in Yemen. Yes, to be sure, you are making it worse. Not only do you provide ammunition for those opposed to any form of engagement by the International Community in general and the US in particular, causing more incendiary drama that is unneeded; you are single handedly ignoring the troves of reporting, data, information and observations that cover the more important aspects of Yemen.

According to the anti-drone lobby, if you will, all the US does is send drones to Yemen to kill innocent people either intentionally or through negligence. Perhaps you are forgetting the large swaths of assistance the US provides to Yemen. Fret not, I will remind you, don’t mention it, it’s my pleasure.

To begin with, I highly recommend reading “High-Value Target: Countering al Qaeda in Yemen” by Former US Ambassador to Yemen Edmund J. Hull, as it details first-hand the efforts that were made by the US in Yemen when this situation really began to pick up speed.

Next we are going to look at the assistance package from the US to Yemen from 2012. CNN’s Security Clearance Blog reported at the time that:

“In the new assistance package, the State Department will provide roughly $47 million in security assistance. The Pentagon will provide an additional $112 million to train and equip the Yemeni security forces to conduct counterterrorism operations. On the civilian side, the United States will provide $178 million for humanitarian aid, development and assistance to help Yemen transition to democracy.”

Yes that is right, the math shows that the Civilian side of the assistance was greater than the amount of Military aid…by $20 Million. That is “$337 million in assistance in the 2012 fiscal year, up from $147 million provided in the previous fiscal year.” Now because there are many different avenues of funding for many types of aid let’s take a look at what the US is doing for the political transition of the country. In March 2013, the US Department of State reported:

In coordination with the international community, including the United Nations, the United States plans to provide $10.4 million in technical and operational assistance to support the Yemeni-led National Dialogue process, slated to begin March 18. We plan to contribute $1.2 million to support constitutional reform and referendum projects. We also plan to provide $8.4 million in technical assistance to prepare for national elections in February 2014, including for reforms to Yemen’s voter registry. We are also supporting the efforts of Yemeni women to ensure their voices and perspectives contribute to Yemen’s transition.

Looking at the Civilian/Humanitarian side of the aid alone for the 2012 fiscal year, Nabeel Khoury, (former Deputy Chief of Mission 2004-2007) stated “this is more than ten times what U.S. assistance to Yemen was during the 2004-2007 period.” So not only do we provide a ridiculous amount of aid to Yemen – we have exponentially increased it.

It is not just the government that provides a great amount of assistance either. The large mega American corporation of Proctor & Gamble donated millions of vaccinations to the Yemen people, reported

“In total over five million vaccines were donated by P&G to Unicef campaign for use in Yemen. These vaccines were distributed and used by Unicef and the Yemeni Government to vaccinate up to two million mothers of child-bearing age over a period of several weeks in 2011.”

The international community overall is pouring assistance into Yemen. Look at the efforts to better education in Yemen by UNICEF, who recently signed a $72.6 Million agreement to support educational needs in Yemen.

Unprofessional Research

“With rare exceptions, the US government only acknowledges its role in targeted killings in general terms, refusing to take responsibility for individual strikes or provide casualty figures, including civilian deaths.”

Clearly the authors have ignored the fact that it was the Yemeni government, who, when the strikes began, insisted that the US did not take credit for the strikes (same as in Pakistan) out of fear that it would erode political credibility of the administration in the eyes of such a territorial public. But hey, feel free to leave critical facts out of your reporting because it paints a picture better to sell your idea.

“The six strikes investigated by Human Rights Watch killed 82 people, at least 57 of them civilians.”

Let’s look at the fact that of the 6, yes, only 6, attacks that are used as case studies, HRW themselves caveated that “security concerns prevented visits to four of the attack areas.” So the researchers visited only 2 of the 6 locations that they are reporting on. For such an incendiary report to only have conducted research at 1/3rd of the sites is simply poor research methods. The fact that the researchers could not even access 2/3rds of the site locations speaks volumes to the fact that these areas are dangerous and riddled with a notable number of bad guys.

Look at the fact that of the 6 locations or incidents, only one of them occurred in 2009 and the rest all between 2012 and 2013. So If the US has been striking Yemen for years does it not make one question their empirical research if 5/6ths of their research only covered a brief period of time of the operations they are researching?  This is just bad research from a scientific perspective. The time and space data are both not representative of the overall theory being published.

Alternatives to UAVs

We used to just swoop in and vanish you from whatever mud-hut tin-roof hide out you were in whether it be Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen or Pakistan. Then everyone threw their hands up claiming that not only the initial onsite detention was illegal, but the “enhanced interrogation” methods we used were illegal. Okay fine, how about we just hold on to you forever, but then the indefinite detention of detainees was protested and protested so well that the US could not continue it at the level and frequency that they were. This eventually led to the fact that for a bad guy to be neutralized, which we are going to do no matter what – because we generally do not like our skyscrapers and planes falling out of the sky over our cities – if we cannot detain him, cannot process him legally (via criminal means) then the only other option is to kill him. What did people expect to happen?


Frankly, I cannot begin to do justice to the argument against the HRW report and subsequent reporting from it, in its defense. To ascertain a far better grasp of the fallacies of logic in them I implore you to read two additional responses that – if I had better internet would have beat in publishing the same arguments – truly delve into a clearer picture of the issue. The first one is Joshua Foust’s How Human Rights Groups Misinterpret Drone Strikes and the second is Benjamin Wittes’ Thoughts on the Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International Reports. Writtes’ piece actually elicited a response by HRW that you can read here and his subsequent response to them here. I must say that reading HRW’s primary defense of their poor research to Writtes as summarized by saying in effect ‘sure our research was weak but it is not our fault, it is the US governments fault for not telling us everything!’ – well there is an argument that truly wins. Kudos to you HRW. Try focusing on issues that have caused far more deaths in Yemen than UAV strikes such as say I don’t know, maybe the North…or better yet, focus on the human rights abuses by Al Qaeda who crucified a human being.

Yemen to construct rehabilitation facility for Guantanamo detainees, al-Qirbi says

Yemen to construct rehabilitation facility for Guantanamo detainees, al-Qirbi says

Yemen is creating a ‘rehabilitation center’ for GITMO detainees. This is sort of a double edged sword. It is obviously coming from pressure from the US who wants to close down the bulk of GITMO facilities and operations as was promised during the Presidential campaign by the Obama administration. Distributing responsibility to other countries around the world is vital, and particularly with Yemen where a large number of the key Al Qaeda operatives came from is great. 

However considering the history Yemen (see herehere & here) has with securing high and mid level value detainees this is unnerving to a degree. If Yemen can more or less guarantee the security of the detainees to be reformed then it may actually work out. Also ensuring the facility is not used to as a re-radicalization facility making moderates worse or extremists worse even worse that would sure be nice.

Yemen SITREP: 24 October 2013


Eid-Al-Adha holiday week in Yemen has proven well in Sana’a regarding electricity access and general safety, though not so well in areas outside of the capital of Sana’a considering the slight flurry of attacks that occurred. There have been a number of positive developments that have transpired over the last one to two weeks which are promising. This SITREP (Situation Report) is broken down into three critical sections: Security, Governance & Development.


Violence has not been completely avoided in Yemen for the last dozen or so days: in Lahj Province where 8 people were killed by an AQAP militant attack and also a Yemeni cop killed in drive-by in South East Yemen. On Thursday, 24 October, a Yemeni Intelligence Officer was shot dead in front of his house in the street. Colonel Abdulrahman al-Shami was gunned down by unknown men driving in a vehicle. This is a continuation of targeted assassinations of Military Officers in the capital of Sana’a.

On Tuesday, 22 October, a riot began at the main prison that holds Al Qaeda related inmates. Yemeni security forces were able to neutralize the riot that was viewed as an attempt to break out of the prison by AQAP. Some 300 inmates, all armed with bladed and blunt weapons attacked guards in an attempt to break out. AhramOnline cited the pretext of this event, saying “Nasser al-Wuhayshi, chief of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula — seen by the United States as the network’s deadliest franchise — vowed in August to release imprisoned members of his network. Wuhayshi himself escaped from the same Sanaa prison with 22 other members of AQAP in February 2006 and was named as the group’s leader a year later.”

On Thursday, 24 October, it was reported that 6 AQAP militants, including 3 AQAP commanders, were killed by airstrikes in the southern province of Abyan.

The international news currently has been filled with brutal critiques of the American “drone” or more aptly, UAV, strikes since a report was published regarding the strikes is “war crimes” and illegal according to international law. I will delve into this in a later post, and I promise you it will not be congruent with the media’s view.


The tail end of the NDC efforts continues with the same drama it began with – The North and the South versus the Central. Though there has been much progress, and simply the attendance of such a diverse pool of representatives is great; the core issues that are bulging the seams of the nation continue to drag on. We are still seeing walk outs, protests and general discontentment that is hindering the Sa’ada Working Group for example and the issues with the south. I foresee success and a solution in the end, however as we have seen over the last few months it is not going to occur easily.


In a report citing IMF officials, there has been some pushback toward Yemen that they “ought to help itself first because donor aid usually flows gradually and in some cases it passes in a complex process including conditions by some donors to release aid.” Ensuring Yemen continues to develop from a donor-air state to a fully functioning self-sustainable state is one of the greatest challenges faced by Yemen and its international stakeholders.

On 15 October it was reported that Yemen has introduced a National Youth Jobs Plan, which is a definite step in the right direction regarding the future of a nation that has such a large population of unemployed youth vying for a future. If the Arab Spring has taught the world anything it is that when the youth is unhappy, someone will pay the price.

Yemen has also recently reached out to Malaysia to better their trading relationship. Aside from increased trade Yemen hopes this will increase investment in the country ergo facilitating overall development.

Following 11 October sabotage, the Marib crude oil pipeline has been repaired. The continuance of electrical and petrol network sabotage is a great hindrance to not only a functioning capital but the overall feeling of stability which negates the idea of investment in Yemen. These attacks hurt Yemen plain and simple.

The United Nations is scheduled to send food aid to 4.5 Million Yemenis. Aid, particularly food aid is always a double edged sword. Aid always has the immediate impact effect that is positive and helpful for sustainment of a people; however often this can lead to donor fatigue and dependence on donors instead of providing a sustainable inherent solution.

It was reported that Yemen is due to upgrade its communications infrastructure. Any communications infrastructure upgrade is a positive thing for more disconnected parts of the world as it tends to provide communication and information access. Both provide flow of data that has a tendency to liberalize and assimilate cultures into the rest of the world. The cost of this upgrade will run about $56 Million and is intended to not only upgrade networks in urban centers like Sana’a but also develop networks out in the rural communities which is critical.

A Busy Day in Yemen: Killing & Kidnapping

Yesterday in the Yemeni Capital of Sana’a, a security officer of the German Embassy was murdered & a member of UNICEF was kidnapped. This has some potentially notable ramifications for the security environment in – for Yemen standards that is – considering that a foreigner was actually killed.

For most of modern Yemeni history – and particularly the last 1-2 years since the revolution – kidnappings targeted foreigners that were journalists & NGO workers & killings targeted Yemeni government officials. The UNICEF kidnapping is not too surprising, though it being the second one in the last month after quite a lull does show an increase of OPTEMPO of these tactics.

The really disturbing issue is that of the killing. Now if it was an abduction gone bad then that could fit into the normal paradigm of Yemeni kidnapping. However, if it was a straight up targeted killing then things have perhaps gone to a whole new level. Historically foreigners were not targeted for killing. My take is that the kidnapping was probably a typical tribal kidnapping (at least I hope so) and the murder was an Al Qaeda effort. If AQAP has begin to target foreigners for killing then things may have reached a notable new level. We will unfortunately have to wait and see if this develops into a pattern or not.

Free Syrian Army Fractures; Bolstering Extremist Ranks


Well now, shit just got real. Bill Rogio over at the LongWarJournal reported that large portions of the Free Syrian Army has essentially ‘defected’ – or depending on how you look at it simply vocalized in word and paper their support and alliance with the hard-liner elements effectively aligned.

What is of key interest though is that “The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, al Qaeda’s other affiliate that operates in Syria, did not sign the statement.” What to make of that is anyone’s guess.

Yemen: Al Qaeda vs Yemen Air Force


So apparently this happened today: Al-Qaida assassinates senior officer in Yemen’s capital. This is the third attack on the Yemeni Air Force in the last 5 weeks that I know of. Two (one was a double hit) attacks on Air Force buses and now this assassination. Why the Yemeni Air Force (as opposed to the Army, Police etc) has been the repeated target of AQAP is unknown. Perhaps for some reason they are a softer target or perhaps it is specifically regarding their air-war against AQAP in the south and the presumed connection with US air assets that utilize armed UAV resources. Perhaps even this is merely a matter of Targets of Opportunity and nothing more.

AQIM Leader’s Expense Reports & Unanswered Phone

This article is too great to pass up. Just saw it today on Huffington Post. It details how Al Qaeda office politics led to Mokhtar Belmokhtar‘s successful rise as the Chief of AQIM. It is good to know disgruntled workers exist on both sides of the war. Best quote ever “In page after scathing page, they described how he didn’t answer his phone when they called, failed to turn in his expense reports, ignored meetings and refused time and again to carry out orders.”