9:41 AM, Sep 12, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Thomas Joscelyn and Bill Roggio, writing about the Yemen and Somalia models for destroying ISIS:
In both Somalia and Yemen, US airstrikes have killed top terrorist leaders, including Shabaab's emir and AQAP's deputy leaders, as well as some of both organizations' top operatives. But AQAP and Shabaab have quickly replaced the slain leaders and continued to effectively pursue their respective insurgencies.
Although the US has conducted counterterrorism operations in Somalia and Yemen, both countries remain major terrorist hubs, host training camps, and are breeding grounds for recruits.
As a result, al Qaeda's branches in both countries continue to pose significant security challenges to the US. On Dec. 25, 2009, an AQAP-trained suicide bomber boarded a Detroit-bound plane and nearly blew it up. Luck saved the day. Prior to the attack, the US counterterrorism bureaucracy assumed that AQAP was a threat only to American interests inside Yemen.
Since that time, the US government has scrambled to stop additional AQAP plots, relying in part on intelligence from counterterrorism partners in Saudi Arabia and Yemen. But even with that full-court press, AQAP continues to threaten American interests. In August 2013, the US shuttered more than 20 diplomatic facilities after it was learned that AQAP was planning to carry out one or more attacks. AQAP continues to probe for America's weaknesses.
Somalia and Yemen are engrossed in perpetual conflicts. There are good reasons to believe that the situations in Iraq and Syria will continue to be more dire. AQAP, Shabaab, and the Islamic State are all primarily insurgency organizations that are fighting for territory. Counterterrorism strikes will continue to have only a limited effect.
In no theater is success in sight.
Whole thing here.
12:02 AM, Sep 11, 2014 • By KATHERINE ZIMMERMAN
In an address Wednesday night to the nation, President Obama held up America’s strategy in Yemen as a model for the counterterrorism strategy he intends to pursue in Iraq and Syria. By doing so, he committed to a strategy of targeting terrorists from the air and supporting local security forces in their counterterrorism fight.
8:36 PM, Sep 10, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
In talking about defeating ISIS, President Obama will cite the examples of Yemen and Somalia as models of success.
"This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years,” Obama will say, according to an except released in advance of tonight's address to the nation.
11:42 AM, Apr 16, 2014 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
A video of a large al Qaeda gathering in Yemen has raised eyebrows in the press. Nasir al Wuhayshi, the head of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), as well as general manager of al Qaeda’s global network, can be heard saying to a crowd of more than 100: "We must eliminate the cross. ... The bearer of the cross is America!"
8:20 AM, Aug 3, 2013 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
On Friday, the State Department announced that 21 diplomatic facilities (now updated to 22), from North Africa through the Middle East and into South Asia, are to be closed this weekend in response to an al Qaeda threat.
12:00 AM, Dec 14, 2012 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
Earlier this week, the State Department designated the al Nusrah Front in Syria as an “alias” for al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). The head of AQI, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi al Husseini al Qurshi (a.k.a. Abu Du'a), “is in control of both AQI and al Nusrah.” The designation says a lot about our knowledge, or lack thereof, of al Qaeda’s clandestine international network.
8:30 AM, Oct 9, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
Last night, President Obama defiantly declared that "al Qaeda is on its heels." The president made this claim at a fundraiser at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco, California.
8:46 AM, Oct 3, 2012 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
On and around September 11, 2012, al Qaeda attacked multiple American assets around the world. The attack that has received the most attention is the deadly attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. But the U.S. consulate in Libya was not the only diplomatic facility assaulted by al Qaeda-affiliated groups in September. Terrorists with ties to al Qaeda’s senior leaders, including al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri, were involved in at least three other U.S. embassy sieges in Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia, and possibly elsewhere.
5:54 PM, Oct 10, 2011 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has released a martyrdom statement for Anwar al Awlaki, the al Qaeda cleric who was killed in a U.S. drone strike last month. AQAP claims – like many critics of the strike – that slaying Awlaki violated American law because the U.S. government “did not prove any crime” and “never presented any proof against” Awlaki and Samir Khan, who was also killed in the strike. The argument goes that, as Americans, Awlaki and Khan were deprived of their right to due process.
3:31 PM, Jul 15, 2011 • By KATHERINE ZIMMERMAN
There’s a report of a U.S. airstrike in Yemen’s restive southern governorate of Abyan that seems to have targeted Fahd al Quso, a Yemeni al Qaeda operative on the FBI’s most wanted list.
11:19 AM, Jun 5, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
Bloomberg reports that "Yemeni protesters fought to take advantage of their government’s sudden flight abroad, with hundreds of thousands cheering the departure of wounded President Ali Abdullah Saleh even as government spokesmen said he would soon return."
12:25 PM, Jun 3, 2011 • By KATHERINE ZIMMERMAN
Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh survived a rocket attack on the presidential palace in Sana’a today, and he is reportedly planning to address the country sometime soon. This latest episode is more evidence that the country where the most active al Qaeda franchise has found sanctuary is sliding toward civil war.
3:38 PM, May 27, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
Katherine Zimmerman, of the American Enterprise Institute's Critical Threats program, offers an update of what's going on in Yemen. "Heavy fighting between government forces and tribesmen outside of Yemen’s capital has broadened the conflict," Zimmerman finds. "Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has gained operating space as Yemeni security forces have pulled out of al Qaeda strongholds to protect the regime’s interests."