The Critical Threats Project releases a weekly update and assessment on the al Qaeda network.
- Al Shabaab thwarted a Somali-led raid targeting a senior leader in Lower Shabelle region. The group’s attack on the joint U.S.-Somali forces caused the first U.S. military combat death in Somalia since 1993. U.S. Navy SEALs were conducting an advise, assist, and accompany mission. Al Shabaab issued a series of statements claiming the attack. [Read “Al Shabaab’s Humanitarian Response” and “US Counterterrorism Objectives in Somalia: Is Mission Failure Likely?”]
- The internationally recognized Yemeni government of Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi is increasingly a figurehead government in its de facto capital, Aden. The Hadi government ceded control of key checkpoints to Southern Movement factions in negotiations. President Hadi had replaced Aden governor and Southern Movement leader Aydarus al Zubaidi, who has close ties to the UAE, with an official based in Riyadh. The move sparked widespread protests. The growing rift within the Hadi government coalition exposes divisions between Saudi Arabia and the UAE. [Read the latest Yemen Crisis Situation Report]
- A Boko Haram faction is reconstituting its leadership, which may improve the group’s operational capacity. The ISIS-recognized Boko Haram faction led by Abu Musab al Barnawi negotiated with the Nigerian government to release 82 of the schoolgirls captured in Chibok in April 2014 in exchange for at least five senior Boko Haram militants. Boko Haram-Barnawi is most likely responsible for a recent attempt to attack American and British diplomatic posts in Nigeria in April 2017. The group could be preparing for a surge of attacks during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which begins on May 26.