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.
The Threat from al Qaeda
IN THIS SECTION
The Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) claimed a coordinated attack in Yemen’s capital hours after it occurred. The timing of ISIS’s spectacular attack may mark the beginning of an ISIS Ramadan offensive in Yemen.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) ability to produce and train new leaders remains unabated despite years of Yemeni and U.S. counterterrorism operations. AQAP’s resilience stems from its formalized mid-level leadership structure with three components: a chain of command, a training and education program, and a consistent promotion process.
Saudi military deployments to the Yemeni border since Operation Decisive Storm (now Operation Restoring Hope) was launched on March 25, 2015, are drawn from both Royal Saudi Land Forces and Saudi Arabian National Guard units.
This Order of Battle (ORBAT) describes the structure and placement of the Saudi-led coalition forces involved in Operations Decisive Storm and Restoring Hope in Yemen.
Mohsen Rezaei, Iran's Expediency Discernment Council Secretary and former senior Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) commander, praised the leader of Yemen’s al Houthis, Abdul Malik al Houthi, in an open letter on March 28.
The Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham claimed credit for a deadly attack in Yemen. The targets of the attack match traditional ISIS methodology, designed to stoke sectarian war, and are a sharp deviation from historical al Qaeda’s practice.
The Yemen Order of Battle (ORBAT) describes the structure and placement of the Yemeni Armed Forces down to the brigade level.
There is no easy strategy for success in Yemen. But one thing is certain: A partnership with the Houthis— who prefer to run the country as puppet masters from the wings, infiltrating rather than controlling the Yemeni military and governmental institutions—is not the answer.
The al Houthi movement, an armed Zaydi Shi’a group that fought six wars with the Yemeni state between 2004 and 2010, expanded its influence in Yemen considerably in 2014.