The Critical Threats Project releases a weekly update and assessment on the al Qaeda network.
- The U.S. is planning to step up military support for the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, which is entering its third year. Iran may intensify its military support for the al Houthi-Saleh faction to counter U.S. engagement on the side of the Saudi-led coalition. Iran already supplies advanced weaponry that allows the al Houthi-Saleh faction to counter coalition capabilities and threaten freedom of movement in the Red Sea. [Read CTP’s latest assessment of Iranian involvement in Yemen: “Warning Update: Iran’s Hybrid Warfare in Yemen.”]
- The growing power of military leaders in Libya will lead to increased conflict in the country’s central and western regions. Hardline Islamist militias in Misrata city, an influential hub in western Libya, are attempting to overthrow a moderate council that supports the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA). The Libyan National Army (LNA), which hardline Misratan forces seek to fight, is advancing on air bases and oil sites in central and western Libya. The al Qaeda network is positioned to hijack the escalating conflict, which also sets conditions for the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) to rebuild its manpower and military capabilities in the country. [Read “Ignoring History: America’s Losing Strategy in Libya.”]
- Al Qaeda and ISIS seek to attack commercial airliners with explosive devices concealed in portable electronic devices. The U.S. and the UK enacted new aviation security restrictions preventing passengers from carrying portable electronics, such as laptops, onto select flights. The U.S. restrictions apply to inbound flights from 10 Muslim-majority countries. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) possesses advanced bomb-making capabilities and has transferred this expertise to other al Qaeda affiliates. ISIS aims to develop similar expertise. [Read: “Did al Shabaab get a bomb on plane? Or not?”]