Update and Assessment: April 27, 2016
By The Editors
April 27, 2016
- Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) withdrew from al Mukalla, the capital of Hadramawt governorate, as coalition-backed Yemeni forces advanced on the port city. AQAP had controlled al Mukalla since April 2015, using the city as a base to support operations against the al Houthi-Saleh forces in western Yemen. AQAP likely seeks to retain its military capabilities and has redeployed forces to support zones in Abyan, Ma’rib, and possibly al Bayda. The loss of al Mukalla is a setback for the group, but AQAP has resurged from similar setbacks previously. [Sign up to receive CTP’s Yemen Crisis Situation Reports by email.]
- The Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) claimed responsibility for an improvised explosive device (IED) attack on an African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) vehicle in a suburb of Mogadishu. This is the first ISIS-claimed attack in Somalia, though the attack was not listed in the English editions of ISIS’s al Bayan provincial news bulletin and did not kill any AMISOM troops. It is possible that an al Shabaab cell in Mogadishu defected to ISIS. CTP assesses that there is a small pro-ISIS group in northern Somalia and a possible Mogadishu-based cell.
- ISIS Wilayat Barqa withdrew the majority of its forces from Derna in eastern Libya. This is a significant loss for ISIS, which first established its Libyan affiliate in Derna and has been fighting to reclaim the city since June 2015. ISIS may be preparing to move its military assets to southwestern Libya, where it has been establishing lines of communication in recent weeks, especially as multiple Libyan armed groups and international actors prepare to attack ISIS’s stronghold in Sirte. There is mounting evidence that ISIS is using southwestern Libya to coordinate with Boko Haram, AKA Wilayat Gharb Ifriqiyah, and extend its influence in the Sahel region. [See CTP’s backgrounder on forces in Libya and on ISIS’s campaign in Libya.]