Al Qaeda Global Tracker
The al Qaeda Global Tracker provides analysis and assessments of major developments related to the al Qaeda network.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) supported an attack on a US naval air station in Pensacola, Florida, in late 2019 that inspired a copycat attack at a naval air station in Corpus Christi, Texas, in May. The Corpus Christi attack occurred three days after the FBI confirmed AQAP’s connection to the Florida attack and was far less sophisticated. On May 21, Adam al Sahli, a Syrian-born US citizen, attacked Naval Air Station Corpus Christi. He crashed his truck into an entrance and shot and wounded a security officer before security forces killed him. Sahli had voiced support for Salafi-jihadi figures on social media, including late AQAP religious official Ibrahim al Rubaish. The FBI is treating the attack as “terrorism-related.”
The attack at Naval Air Station Pensacola in December 2019 preceded Sahli’s attack. Mohammad al Shamrani, a Saudi national participating in a US Navy flight training program, opened fire in a classroom building. He killed three American sailors and injured eight other people. AQAP claimed responsibility for the attack in early February 2020. Shamrani had communicated with AQAP about planning an attack since 2015. He joined the Saudi military and sought to participate in the US training program to create an opportunity for such an operation.
More al Qaeda–inspired, and possibly al Qaeda–directed, attacks on domestic military positions may follow. The Islamic State and its supporters have not claimed credit for the Corpus Christi attack. AQAP has previously encouraged attacks targeting US military bases, including the November 2009 Fort Hood shooting in Texas. Continued attacks, particularly others involving foreign military personnel, could erode relations between the US military and Middle Eastern partners.
More from AEI and CTP:
“Al Qaeda’s role in the Pensacola shooting and what it means” by Katherine Zimmerman
“Yemen File: AQAP did more than just inspire the Pensacola attack” by Jessica Kocan