Situation Report Threat Update

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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. Hostilities are escalating in Yemen after Saudi-led coalition airstrikes killed civilians in Sana’a, which scuttled a planned humanitarian ceasefire and provoked a response from al Houthi-Saleh forces. Coalition airstrikes killed approximately 155 civilians and wounded more than 500 others at the funeral for an al Houthi-Saleh military commander on October 8. Al Houthi-Saleh forces fired ballistic missiles toward Taif city, Saudi Arabia and Ma’rib governorate, Yemen in retaliation. Al Houthi-Saleh forces may have also fired two missiles toward a U.S. Navy destroyer north of the Bab al Mandab Strait on October 9, six days after an al Houthi-Saleh missile struck an Emirati ship in the same region. [Read CTP’s latest Yemen Situation Report and see its map of Yemen’s frontlines.]
  2. Al Qaeda is exploiting the current counterterrorism focus on the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) to build up a resilient Salafi-jihadi base in Libya. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) emir Abdelmalek Droukdel gave an audio speech, titled “Benghazi and the Battle of Patience,” in which he frames jihad as the alternative to foreign invasion and destruction in Benghazi. AQIM, along with al Qaeda-linked groups currently operating in Libya, seeks to exploit conflict between secular forces and Islamist militants in Benghazi to position itself as a defender of the Libyan people and establish strong relationships with local armed groups. International attention remains focused on the U.S.-backed counter-ISIS campaign in Sirte. [Keep up to date on CTP’s Libya work here. For more on al Qaeda’s strategy, see Katherine Zimmerman’s work on Yemen and Syria.]
  3. ISIS may attempt to resume an offensive campaign against the Algerian state. The pro-ISIS Amaq News Agency claimed on October 9 that ISIS Wilayat al Jaza’ir (Algeria) conducted an improvised explosive device (IED) attack on an Algerian army convoy near Tamalous in northeastern Algeria. This is ISIS’s first claimed attack in Algeria since August 2016. Counterterrorism operations have limited ISIS’s ability to attack in Algeria, but the return of Algerian fighters from Syria and Libya may allow the group to increase the frequency and impact of its attacks in the country. [Read Emily Estelle and Brenna Snyder’s “AQIM and ISIS in Algeria: Competing Campaigns.”]