Critical Threats Today
A regular summary of al Qaeda operations in Yemen and Africa as well as major events in Iran.
These are the major events from March 22 for Iran and for al Qaeda operations in Yemen and Africa. Please see the Iran News Roundup, the Gulf of Aden Security Review, and the weekly Threat Update for more details.
Al Houthi-Saleh forces are using Iranian technology to attack Hadi government forces behind the front line.
GPS-guided “Kamikaze” drones destroyed Saudi-led coalition air defense systems in Yemen and exposed targets to al Houthi-Saleh ballistic missiles, according to a Conflict Armament Research report published on March 22. The report confirms a CTP assessment that the drones used by al Houthi-Saleh forces in Yemen are Iranian-made. Iran is increasing its support for al Houthi-Saleh forces in an effort to preempt a growing U.S. commitment to the Saudi-led coalition. (Recommended reading: Pushing Back on Iran: Policy Options in Yemen)
Citations & Links
A hardline takeover in Misrata may escalate conflict with the Libyan National Army (LNA).
The Misrata Military Council, supported by other several Misratan organizations, overthrew the Misrata Municipal Council after days of protests against the council’s management. The takeover of the Municipal Council may be the first step for Misratan hardliners to take control of the city. Misratan hardliners are the main drivers of increased tensions with the LNA. Misratan hardline elements support Islamist militias, including militias with links to al Qaeda, which attempted to seize oil terminals from the LNA on March 3. The hardline takeover in Misrata sidelines moderate factions who have demonstrated willingness to negotiate and supported the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA).
Citations & Links
Al Qaeda and ISIS are both pursuing the capability to deploy bombs disguised in portable electronics to attack commercial airline flights.
A new set of aviation security restrictions from the U.S. and the UK bans portable electronics as carry-on items for inbound flights from 10 Muslim-majority countries. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has advanced capabilities that it has shared with other al Qaeda affiliates. AQAP transferred either the technology or the expertise to al Shabaab in Somalia, which attempted to use a laptop bomb in early 2016. ISIS may have developed similar capabilities.