Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) formed in January 2009 as a merger between the Yemeni and Saudi al Qaeda branches. Operatives work in cells throughout the country and rely on tribal support for shelter. The group seeks to establish an Islamic state and has executed attacks on Western interests.

Capabilities: AQAP has historically targeted western interests in Yemen; however, the 2009 Christmas Day attack, October 2010 parcel plot, and May 2012 bomb plot showed that the group has international capabilities.

English-language outreach: AQAP is the first al Qaeda franchise to publish in English. Anwar al Awlaki, an American-born cleric, headed the group's English-language outreach from Yemen and advocated for the Muslim community to wage violent jihad.

Guantanamo Detainees: Yemen continues to be a destination for former Guantanamo detainees, some of whom are part of the AQAP leadership.

 
Recent Publications

AQAP Expanding behind Yemen's Frontlines

AQAP a Resurgent ThreatCTC Sentinel

A New Model for Defeating al Qaeda in Yemen

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula Mid-Level Leadership

AQAP jailbreak is just another problem for Yemen

Al Qaeda's role in Paris attacks underscores failings of counterterrorism strategy

AQAP hostage Somers is a symptom of Yemen model problems

Warning: AQAP's Looming Threat in Yemen

AQAP's Campaign against the Yemeni Military

Testimony: AQAP's Role in the al Qaeda Network

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula: Leaders and their Networks

Al Qaeda's Yemen-based Affiliate is Alive and Well, Daily Caller

Insurgency in Yemen: The New Challenge to American Counter-Terrorism Strategy

Map of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula Attacks in Yemen

The Death of AQAP's Anwar al Awlaki

 

English-Language Outreach

Expanding the Campaign of Violence: Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's English-Language Magazine

Quick Take: Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's English-Language Magazine

Eliminating al-Awlaki, The Corner: National Review Online

Militant Islam's Global Preacher: The Radicalizing Effect of Sheikh Anwar al Awlaki

Quick Take: Anwar al Awlaki - Militant Islam's Global Preacher

 
The Threat from al Qaeda

Ten Years After 9/11: Al Qaeda's Reemergence in Yemen

Al Qaeda's Gains in South Yemen

Terror Partnership: AQAP and Shabaab

Al Qaeda's Yemen Strategy

Unrest in Yemen Could Benefit AQAP, The Corner: National Review Online

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in 2010: The Intensification of the Near War

The Shifting Tactics of AQAP, The Corner: National Review Online

The Continued al Qaeda Threat from Yemen, The Daily Caller

Christmas Day Attack: Manifestation of AQAP Shift Targeting America

Christmas Day 2009 Airline Bombing: Yemen and al Qaeda Context

 
Background

Tracker: AQAP and Suspected AQAP Attacks in 2010 and 2011

Testimony Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

January 15th Strike: Targeting al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) Leaders and Implications

Critical Threats Project Briefing on Yemen and AQAP

Quick Take: Yemen, AQAP, and a Way Forward

Denying al Qaeda a Safe Haven in Yemen

IN THIS SECTION

Province Ties to the Islamic State Core: Islamic State in Yemen

By Katherine Zimmerman, November 14, 2016

The Islamic State is present in Yemen and will likely remain so for the foreseeable future. That reality may well lead U.S. policymakers to see Yemen as a front in the counter–Islamic State fight. That would be a mistake.

Iranian involvement in missile attacks on the USS Mason

Iran almost certainly played a role in the missile attacks against the USS Mason near the Bab al Mandab Strait on October 9 and October 12. . Iran likely supplied the missiles and, at the very least, Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force (IRGC-QF) or Lebanese Hezbollah operatives provided technical expertise and modifications in support of those who launched the attack.

Escalation in the Red Sea: Yemen’s Civil War, Iran, and Saudi Arabia

By Katherine Zimmerman, Emily Estelle, October 14, 2016

The deliberate targeting of U.S. Navy vessels from al Houthi-Saleh–controlled territory is a significant inflection in the Red Sea and a sign that Yemen’s civil war is becoming tangled in regional dynamics and conflicts. It does not make sense when seen in the context of only one the conflicts—the Yemeni civil war, the Iranian-Saudi conflict, and Iran’s more aggressive posturing in the region.

Yemen Frontlines: October 2016

By Katherine Zimmerman, October 6, 2016

The frontlines of Yemen’s civil war have remained relatively fixed because neither side has the military strength to extend its influence significantly beyond the borders of its support base.

Yemen Warning: Sana'a Offensive

By Nicholas Jonsson, Bailey Palmer, July 15, 2016

Yemeni military forces loyal to President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi will likely launch an offensive to seize control of the al Houthi-Saleh—controlled capital, Sana’a, in the coming weeks.

Challenging the Yemeni State: ISIS in Aden and al Mukalla

ISIS is prosecuting a campaign in Yemen designed to elevate its position on the global stage and compete with one of al Qaeda’s strongest affiliates. ISIS will likely surge in Yemen during Ramadan 2016 and attempt to derail ongoing efforts to bring stability and security to southern Yemen.

Signaling Saudi Arabia: Iranian Support to Yemen’s al Houthis

By Katherine Zimmerman, April 15, 2016

Iranian activities in Yemen are not about Yemen. They are, rather, part of the regional struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran that is now playing out on battlefields and in political and diplomatic arenas throughout the Middle East.

AQAP Expanding behind Yemen's Frontlines

By Katherine Zimmerman, February 17, 2016

AQAP is well on its way to reconstituting the emirate it held in 2011 and 2012 almost unnoticed by the outside world. U.S. airstrikes have had no effect at all on its expansion and have not significantly degraded the group’s ability to target the United States. AQAP is becoming an ever-more serious threat to American national security, and no one is doing much about it.

2016 Yemen Crisis Situation Reports

By The Editors , January 7, 2016

An archive of the 2016 Yemen Crisis Situation Reports.

AQAP: A Resurgent Threat

By Katherine Zimmerman, CTC Sentinel, September 11, 2015

Al Qaeda’s Yemen-based affiliate has been quietly expanding as the country descends further into civil war. It may be one of the few beneficiaries of Yemen’s collapse, other than the Islamic State, which is developing its own Yemeni franchise.