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'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

Tracker: AQAP and Suspected AQAP Attacks in 2010 and 2011

Map of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula Attacks in Yemen

The Death of AQAP's Anwar al Awlaki

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

 
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

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

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

Yemen Model Won't Work in Iraq, Syria

President Obama says the United States is looking to its Yemen policy as a model for what to do in Iraq and Syria. But what the president labels the “Yemen model” has not been as successful as the White House claims; indeed, it is in danger of collapse.

AQAP's Campaign against the Yemeni Military

By Katherine Zimmerman, July 7, 2014

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula continues its military operations in Yemen. It would be premature to expect a large-scale offensive, but it would also be a mistake to rule out the possibility of a series of significant attacks that could unhinge the Yemeni security forces.

Yemen's Counter-Terrorism Quandary

By Alexis Knutsen, June 26, 2014

Yemeni efforts since 2011 have reduced AQAP’s control, but the escalating conflict with the al Houthis threatens to divert key resources away from the counter-terrorism fight once again.

Yemen's Pivotal Moment

By Katherine Zimmerman, February 12, 2014

Yemen is at a pivotal moment today, three years after the outbreak of popular protests, and the future of America’s strategy against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is on the line.

Mutiny in the Yemeni Military

By Sasha Gordon, July 10, 2013

The Yemeni military has long been weakened by corruption, fragmentation, and instances of insubordination, but in the past year and a half its soldiers have been bucking orders and casting out commanders at an increasingly faster rate. If this trend continues to accelerate, it risks knocking out a vital pillar of U.S. counterterrorism strategy.

A New Wave of Military Restructuring Decrees in Yemen

By Sasha Gordon, April 11, 2013

The Yemeni National Transitional Government yesterday issued eight decrees that are aimed at restructuring and unifying this weakened Yemeni military. It will be important to watch whether powerbrokers within the security forces accept the new decisions and whether the Yemeni security forces become a truly reliable partner in the fight against AQAP.

Desknote: The Southern Movement Uprising

By Sasha Gordon, February 28, 2013

Yemen’s fragile and reversible gains against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula are threatened by a new challenge:  the re-emergence of a violent secessionist movement in the south.

Tribal Militias in Yemen: Al Bayda and Shabwah

By Sasha Gordon, February 7, 2013

Local Yemeni tribal militias, called “popular resistance committees,” are now the primary defenders of areas threatened by Ansar al Sharia. These militias have been effective, but are not reliable in the long term.

Yemen's Military Restructuring: Removing Saleh's Network

By Katherine Zimmerman, Sasha Gordon, December 20, 2012

Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi issued a series of decrees yesterday that served to both restructure Yemen’s security forces and to remove remnants of ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s network from official command positions.

Al Qaeda in Yemen: Countering the Threat from the Arabian Peninsula

By Katherine Zimmerman, October 19, 2012

Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen, which has already attempted three attacks on the United States, is stronger now than it was before the start of the Arab Spring. The Yemeni government, America’s counter-terrorism partner, is weaker. The danger to America from this virulent terrorist group is growing. And our current strategy is unlikely to succeed.