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. Iran is using the Yemeni civil war to extend its reach and further entangling internal Yemeni conflicts with regional tensions. Missiles fired from al Houthi-Saleh territory targeted the USS Mason just north of the Bab al Mandab Strait on October 9 and October 12. The U.S. Navy destroyed three radar sites in Yemen in response.  Senior U.S. administration officials stated that there is “no doubt” of al Houthi involvement in the attacks, which al Houthi-Saleh leaders have repeatedly denied. The al Houthi-Saleh faction has since released two American prisoners to Omani custody and agreed to resume the peace process, likely indicating efforts to de-escalate tensions with the U.S. Operatives from Iran or Lebanese Hezbollah may have conducted or facilitated the attacks on the USS Mason. [Read CTP’s coverage in “Escalation in the Red Sea: Yemen’s Civil War, Iran, and Saudi Arabia” and “Iranian Involvement in the Missile Attacks on the USS Mason.” Stay up to date on Yemen with CTP’s latest Yemen Situation Report and map of Yemen’s frontlines.]
  2. Security may breakdown in Tripoli, Libya, after an attempted coup against the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA). Political leaders from the General National Congress (GNC), a rump Islamist parliament, attempted to seize the headquarters of a pro-GNA governmental body in Libya’s capital with the support of armed groups. The GNA remains in control of Libya’s state institutions, but powerful militias opposed to the GNA and its supporters are now rallying in support of the attempted coup in Tripoli. Competition between rival militias could erupt into open fighting in Tripoli. The collapse of security in Tripoli would further undermine the already weak GNA and draw resources away from the unfinished fight against ISIS in central Libya. [Catch up on Libya with CTP’s assessment of the GNA’s support base.]
  3. American citizens remain a target for Salafi-jihadi groups operating in the Sahel region of West Africa. Militants based in Mali abducted an American aid worker from his home in Niger on October 15. No group has claimed responsibility for the abduction, though the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) was likely involved. MUJAO is affiliated with al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). AQIM is resurgent in the Sahel and will continue to conduct attacks designed to impel the U.S. and its allies to withdraw from the region. [For more on the growing al Qaeda threat in the Sahel, read Katherine Zimmerman and Alix Halloran’s “Warning from the Sahel: al Qaeda’s Resurgent Threat.”]