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. Hamza bin Laden, the son of Osama bin Laden, is emerging as a prominent senior al Qaeda leader. Bin Laden called for Muslims to support the Syrian jihad in a message marking the 16th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. Al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri called for the global Salafi-jihadi movement to unite under al Qaeda’s leadership in his September 11 message. Zawahiri did not discuss Syria. Al Qaeda leadership is grooming Hamza bin Laden as a future leader to preserve the group’s role as a leader of the Salafi-jihadi movement. [Read Katherine Zimmerman’s landmark report: “America’s Real Enemy: The Salafi-Jihadi Movement.”]
  2. Civil unrest is a threat to the Tunisian government. Protests erupted in Tunis against the passage of an amnesty law protecting officials accused of corruption during former President Zine al Abidine Ben Ali’s regime. The backlash accompanies a push by Prime Minister Yousef Chahed to implement austerity measures required by an IMF economic reform package. The desynchronization of political and economic reform increases the risk of uprising as the population becomes increasingly dissatisfied with the government’s failure to uphold the promise of the 2011 Jasmine Revolution. [Read Emily Estelle’s “Warning Update: Escalating Protests Threaten Instability in Tunisia.”]
  3. Al Houthi movement leader Abdul Malik al Houthi threatened to attack the UAE homeland for the first time. The al Houthi-Saleh bloc likely lacks the capability to target Abu Dhabi at this time, however. The al Houthi-Saleh bloc’s furthest demonstrated ballistic missile range is over 900 kilometers. Al Houthi-Saleh forces would need to launch a missile roughly 1300 kilometers in order to reach Abu Dhabi. It is plausible that al Houthi-Saleh forces will develop the capability to strike the UAE homeland with a ballistic missile in the near-term. Iran continues to facilitate the development of the al Houthi-Saleh bloc’s sophisticated weaponry, such as ballistic missiles, according to U.S. Vice Admiral and 5th Fleet Commander Kevin M. Donegan. [Read Katherine Zimmerman’s recommendations for reducing Iranian influence in Yemen.]