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

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


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


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.

A New Model for Defeating al Qaeda in Yemen

By Katherine Zimmerman, September 10, 2015

The terrorist threat from Yemen is growing. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has expanded and strengthened as the Yemeni state has collapsed. The US must identify a way forward and lead a coordinated regional response in Yemen.

Exploring ISIS in Yemen

By Katherine Zimmerman, July 24, 2015

The Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) is attempting to expand its footprint in Yemen. A Timestream case study reveals insights into ISIS's reach inside of Yemen.

al Houthi Areas of Influence

By Katherine Zimmerman, July 16, 2015

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.

Ramadan Bombings in Yemen: Part of ISIS's Global Strategy?

By Alexis Knutsen, June 17, 2015

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 Mid-Level Leadership

By Joshua Koontz, June 3, 2015

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.

2015 Yemen Crisis Situation Report

By The Editors , January 23, 2015

An archive of the 2015 Yemen Crisis Situation Reports.

Saudi Unit Deployments to the Yemeni Border (Jizan, Asir, and Najran Regions)

By Charles Caris, June 2, 2015

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.

Desknote: The Growing Threat of ISIS in Yemen

By Joshua Koontz, May 6, 2015

Groups claiming loyalty to the Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) are emerging throughout Yemen. It is unknown whether these pro-ISIS groups have ties to ISIS in Iraq and whether they operate together or independently. The groups call themselves wilayats (provinces) following standard ISIS practice. There are seven known wilayats operating in ten Yemeni provinces: Sa’ada, Sana’a, al Jawf, al Bayda, Taiz, Ibb, Lahij, Aden, Shabwah, and Hadramawt.

2015 Saudi-led Intervention in Yemen: Order of Battle

By Charles Caris, April 23, 2015

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.