Yemen Calls for Gulf Military InterventionMarch 23, 2015 in ISIS, Yemen
23 March– Yemen’s foreign minister Riyadh Yaseen has called on Gulf Arab military intervention in Yemen to stop territorial advances by Houthi fighters opposed to President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi. In a televised interview, Yaseen said, “They’re expanding in territory, occupying airports and cities, attacking Aden with planes, detaining whom they please, threatening and gathering their forces.” Yasseen added, “We have expressed to the Gulf Cooperation Council, the United Nations as well as the international community that there should be a no-fly zone, and the use of military aircraft should be prevented at the airports controlled by the Houthis.”
The call for assistance comes as Yemen’s rebel Houthis escalated attacks against President Hadi, who fled to Aden last month after escaping house arrest at the hands of Houthis in Sanaa. Over the weekend, he made a defiant speech challenging the Houthis in his first public address since leaving Sanaa.
Rebel leader Abdel-Malik al-Houthi, who is reportedly backed by supporters of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, vowed to send fighters into the southern part of the country where Hadi has taken refuge against the rebels. In one of his customary long and heated speeches over the weekend, al-Houthi said the move is meant to target al-Qaeda and other militant groups, as well as forces loyal to Hadi in the south. He referred to President Hadi as “puppet” to international and regional powers, and called the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Qatar conspirators against Yemen.
Al-Houthi’s speech came a day after the Houthis called for a general mobilization against forces loyal to Hadi, and shortly after Houthi rebels seized the country’s third largest city of Taiz, an important station in its advance. The militia had also seized Taiz’s airport. Thousands of protestors swelled into the streets to oppose the capture of the city; the rebels dispersed them by firing into the air and beating them back with batons. The Houthis have taken control of the capital and six provinces.
Amid the unrest, terrorist groups are also gaining greater ground. Over the weekend, al-Qaeda seized the town of al-Houta amid growing violence. And on Friday, ISIS affiliates claimed responsibility for two bombs at mosques in Sana’a, killing up to 150 people. If their responsibility is verified, this marks the first large-scale actions in Yemen, and could drive Yemen further into instability.
In light of the escalating unrest, US troops evacuated al Anad air base on Sunday About 100 American troops and Special Forces units were stationed at the air base. UK Special Forces have pulled out of Yemen as well. The troops were reportedly airlifted from the capital Sana’a over the weekend. Jeff Rathke, US State Department spokesman, said in a statement: “Due to the deteriorating security situation in Yemen, the US government has temporarily relocated its remaining personnel out of Yemen.” The UK Government has not commented on the withdrawal of British troops.
The CIA and US military have carried out drone strikes against insurgents in Yemen for many years. Diplomats from the United States and several European nations fled Yemen in February amid embassy closures resulting from deteriorating security conditions.
Al Qaeda, AQAP, al-Shabaab, and Anjad Misr release videosApril 21, 2014 in Africa, Egypt, Kenya, Terrorism, Yemen
Four videos and one audio link related to al Qaeda have emerged. An audio release was published on 18 April on the radical Islamist site, Hanein, containing an hour-long question and answer interview AQ’s media group, al-Sahab, and reportedly including al Qaeda’s global leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri. In the discussion, Zawahiri states that al Qaeda is “holding strong” despite the ongoing war on terror that began nearly 13 years ago, even adding that US President Obama is aware that AQ is growing. Al Zawahiri states, “The upper hand is for the one who does not withdraw from his land. Who has withdrawn from Iraq, and who has not? Who has withdrawn from Afghanistan and who has not?”
In Egypt, a the militant group Anjad Misr (Soldiers of Egypt) claimed responsibility for attacks in Cairo on April 10, 15, and 18 on their Facebook and Twitter pages. The group also released video of eight previous attacks. Their stated goal is to target members of the current regime, which they consider “criminal” since the overthrow of Muslim Brotherhood-backed president Mohamed Morsi. The group’s statement asserts that Anjad Misr does not intend to harm civilians, and has aborted or altered some operations out of concern for civilians in the area. However, the statement said that the group is prepared to receive “information about the movements of the officers and personnel of the criminal services, and their addresses.”
This statement coincides with al Zawahiri’s audio message: he calls the Egyptian army “Americanized” and said they should be fought: “We bless every jihadi operation against the Zionists and the Americanized army that protects their borders and the criminal of the Interior, and fights the American interests that assault the Muslims.”
In Somalia, a video from al-Shabaab, the Somali-based al Qaeda affiliate, has also emerged. In the video, members of the militant group reflect on the siege of Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya. The attack resulted in 67 deaths and is one of the bloodiest events associated with the group. However, in the video, the group states that more is likely to come: “It’s not that Westgate was enough. There are still hundreds of men who are wishing for such an operation.”
A final video shows what may be the largest al Qaeda gathering in years. Nasir al-Wuhayshi, the head of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the Number Two for global al Qaeda operations, appears in Yemen, greeting his followers. The video shows al-Wuhayshi delivering a speech containing specific threats to the United States: “We must eliminate the cross. … The bearer of the cross is America!”
Analysts believe the video is authentic, and because some faces were blurred out, it may suggest that those individuals may be involved in upcoming plots.
Prison Assault in Yemen, 21 AQAP Operatives releasedFebruary 20, 2014 in Yemen
13 February: Twenty-nine prisoners escaped from prison following an assault on a central prison complex in Sana’a, Yemen. Of those who escaped, 21 were known members of terror network, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), including explosive experts convicts suspected in the assassination attempt on Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.
According to an anonymous Yemeni security official, “The group detonated the car bomb at the western wall of the prison, creating an approximately five-meter (16-foot) hole in the wall. They shot and killed the guards in this area, including using RPGs.” Immediately following, two groups of fighters exited cars and broke off into two units; a third group of fighters was stationed on nearby rooftops. As one unit fought with security guards outside the prison; the rooftop opened fire on the guards. The second unit then battled guards inside the prison. Seven soldiers were killed and four were injured. It is unknown whether members of the assault teams were injured.
Yemen has mobilized its security apparatus in efforts to recapture the prisoners. State media has published images of the criminals and called on citizens to contact officials if they see anything.
The assault is the latest in a series of security installation attacks occurring over several months. In mid-January, 10 soldiers were killed in coordinated attacks on three military outposts in the town of Rada’a in Baydah province. In December, a suicide team of AQAP fighters penetrated security at the Ministry of Defence in Sana’a, attempting to target US-led Ops Rooms for the drone program in Yemen. The assault killed 52 people. High-profile assaults were also conducted in September and October of 2013.
While no group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, the nature of the break is consistent with AQAP. The strategy of combining suicide bombers and assault teams has been used by the group in the past. It is a common tactic among al-Qaeda linked allies, including portions of the Taliban and Boko-Haram. Further, AQAP emir and general manager, Nasir al Wuhaysi, released a statement in August 2013, in which he praises militants currently in prison, and vows that efforts will be made to release them.