Situation Report Threat Update

authors

The Editors

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Threat Update Situation Report

Authors

The Editors

Latest Edition

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The Critical Threats Project releases a weekly update and assessment on the al Qaeda network.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Peace negotiations are unlikely to advance in Yemen despite an agreement on a roadmap for talks. Combatants did not allow the delivery of humanitarian aid during a 48-hour cessation of hostilities that ended on November 21. Significant roadblocks that will impede the peace process include the selection of consensus leadership for a transitional government, disarmament, and control of terrain, including the capital city, Sana’a. Forces aligned with internationally recognized Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government are attempting to advance in northern Yemen and contest al Houthi-Saleh control of terrain in Taiz city and near the Bab al Mandeb Strait. The al Houthi-Saleh faction has continued to target Saudi-led coalition positions in central Yemen and southern Saudi Arabia. Local conflicts will likely continue even if national-level actors begin to make progress toward a negotiated settlement. [Read the latest in-depth Yemen Crisis Situation Report.]
  2. The Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) may be prepared to use its safe havens in central and southern Libya to conduct asymmetrical attacks against U.S.-backed forces as they prepare to seize the final neighborhood of ISIS’s former stronghold in Sirte. ISIS militants operating as “desert brigades” south of Sirte have demonstrated the capability to ambush Libyan military positions, disrupt supply lines with explosive attacks, and establish checkpoints on key roads. ISIS is recruiting foreign fighters into southern Libya and is likely relying on the same safe havens used by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). ISIS may disrupt efforts to secure Sirte city and return internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their homes. [See CTP’s “Fighting Forces in Libya” map.]
  3. Salafi-jihadi groups are delegitimizing municipal elections in Mali and may threaten a fragile peace accord in the country’s north. AQIM affiliate Ansar al Din is likely responsible for coordinated attacks on municipal elections, including the targeting of convoys carrying ballot boxes and the kidnapping of an electoral candidates in northern and central Mali. Unknown groups also attacked polling stations and burned election materials in multiple locations. A former separatist group based in northern Mali, where Ansar al Din and other Salafi-jihadi groups are active, refused to recognize the outcome of local elections due to the absence of promised UN intermediaries. Disputed elections may damage the fragile peace accord in northern Mali, raising the risk of a renewed secessionist movement that Salafi-jihadi actors could co-opt. [Read CTP’s assessments of a new ISIS branch in the Sahel and al Qaeda’s rise in the region.]