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. The al Houthi movement’s reaction to a recent Iranian statement indicates that the group seeks to maintain its autonomy from Iran. The head of Iran’s Armed Forces General Staff Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Major General Mohammad Bagheri said that Iran would seek naval bases in Yemen and Syria in the future. An al Houthi official responded directly stating that Yemen’s land and sea would not be forfeit to foreign powers. Former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh, currently allied with the al Houthis, offered Russia access to Yemeni military bases in August 2016 to cooperate in combating terrorism. [Read the latest in-depth Yemen Crisis Situation Report.]
  2. Russia may directly support Libyan factions in counterterrorism operations in order to expand its influence in North Africa and on the Mediterranean Sea. Libyan Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar, who commands the Libyan National Army, met with Russian defense and military officials in Moscow to discuss Russian land, sea, and air support for his operations. The Libyan National Army is not subordinate to the UN-backed Government of National Accord. The UN’s arms embargo remains in place for Libya. [See CTP’s laydown of forces in Libya for background.]
  3. French and U.S. officials have expressed moderate confidence that a November 14 French airstrike killed senior al Qaeda leader in the Sahara Mokhtar Belmokhtar. The airstrike occurred in southwest Libya and officials are still seeking to confirm his death. Belmokhtar’s removal from the battlespace would have a significant, though probably temporary, impact on the al Qaeda network in the Sahel and the Maghreb. He had been an emir in al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb before breaking off and founding what would come to be known as al Murabitoun, the al Qaeda group behind major attacks in West Africa. Belmokhtar was a core al Qaeda leader operating in the region. [Read “al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb: Leaders and their Networks” for more on the AQIM leadership network in West Africa.]