Stability in the Arabian Peninsula region has been a concern for the United States for some time now. AQAP poses a direct threat against the U.S. and U.S. interests of Stability and Security in the Arabian Peninsula. This instability and threat is why I have chosen the AQAP as the FTO to research making the next attack. The AQAP comes from the merging of the al Qaeda cells from Yemen and in Saudi Arabia. There are approximately one –two hundred members, with thousands of supporters. The merger took place in January 2009, due to the success of the Saudi Arabian government in destroying al Qaeda’s infrastructure in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. AQAP is a subsidiary of the al Qaeda, whose center of gravity is in Pakistan and Afghanistan, but works independently of its parent organization. Since formation occurred, they are responsible for a number of attacks on the “West” and are considered responsible parties of the “UPS and FEDEX cargo bombing attempts” (Kurczy, 2010).
They were deemed a terrorist organization on December 14, 2009, by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. (Gerstein, 2010). Prior to the formation of AQAP, al Qaeda claimed responsibility for numerous attacks in Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Those attacks include: the 1993 attack on World Trade Center, 1998 suicide bombings of Embassies, the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, and the 2008 car bombing outside the U.S. Embassy in Sana’ killing 19 people including 6 of the terrorists (Poland, 2005 ). AQAP has claimed to plan on targeting oil facilities, tourists, and security forces in the future. It is believed though that AQAP provided spiritual guidance by U.S. Citizen Anwar al Awlaki to U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who was the gunman behind the 2009 Ft. Hood killings and the December 2009 attempt to down a passenger airline to Detroit.
Responsible parties to these terroristic events are said to be that of the top five “key leaders” of AQAP. These men include are in order of their rank from the top spot of leaders to the last. 1. Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, aka the bomb maker. He is believed to be the creator of the bombs intercepted in October last year on cargo planes. 2. Anwar al-Awlaki, aka the chief ideologue. He is suspected of being part of three unsuccessful terrorist attacks to include the Fort Hood Shootings (Bryant, C., & Kasinof, L., 2010), bombing attempt on airliner jet on Christmas, and the Times Square bombing on May 2. 3. Said Ali al-Shihri, deputy chief of AQAP. He is suspected of participation in September 2008 US Embassy attack and the kidnapping of nine missionaries in June 2009 according to Fox News. 4. Qasim al-Raymi, military commander. He followed Osama bin Laden’s lead on media releases “building an ever-more sophisticated propaganda arm for al Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula” (Kurczy, 2010).
5. Nasir al Wuhayshi, head of AQAP. Known as the personal secretary of Osama bin Laden (Kurczy, 2010). Most of AQAP is made up of fighters that returned from Afghanistan during the Russian invasion and fighters that have been serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. They lure new recruits who are sympathetic to al Qaeda and have animosity towards the U.S. and western nations. The recruiting pool is vast in the region with fighters fleeing Iraq and Afghanistan and relocating to Yemen and Somalia. Both countries have weak central governments that are conducive for lawlessness in the region and have vast ungoverned territory. Government cooperation with American counter-terrorism efforts has historically been spotty and portions of both populations are hostile to the United States. (Kerry, 2010) AQAP aims to overthrow the Yemeni government for its support to the U.S. and its offensive operations against al Qaeda.
The group also emphasizes its global ambitions and desire to target western interests within the region. Additionally, AQAP has stated it will focus on cutting supply lines of western nations supporting Israel and looks to expand its influence throughout the region (Boucek, 2010). The animosity against the western nations continues to grow, as does the technology and ideas for new weapons. The newest information is that a poisoned perfume plot against religious and government officials was prevented due to arrest of 149 al Qaeda suspects. This is just an example of the creativity AQAP has come up with. Last summer the country’s Deputy Interior Minister had been attempted to be assassinated by a bomber with the weapon in his anus (Rawnsley, 2010). These weapons are just the newest form used by AQAP. Yemen has emerged as a major staging base for al Qaeda and other likeminded groups for attacking American targets within Yemen as well as to reach targets outside of Yemen including the United States.
U.S. officials have warned that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was a growing threat even before the failed 2009, Christmas Day airline bombing attempt (Kerry, 2010). In February 2009, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair stated that, “Yemen is reemerging as a jihadist battleground and potential regional base of operations for Al Qaeda to plan internal and external attacks, train terrorists, and facilitate the movement of operatives.” (Rollins, 2010). The threat coming from AQAP is greater than the threat coming from al Qaeda’s central leadership located in Pakistan. AQAP is increasingly a more pressing concern for U.S. national security. AQAP has relative freedom of movement in the Arabian Peninsula and region which allows for its ability to increase its ranks through recruitment as well as its ability to train new recruits.
Additionally, AQAP has also shown its ability to influence other like-minded individuals to conduct attacks to our homeland with little to no warning. AQAP has proven it has the means and capability to attempt to conduct attacks globally although it has yet to be successful. It is only a matter of time before they possess the ability and trained personnel that are able to conduct something equal to or greater than the attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001. AQAP poses a direct threat to the U.S. and U.S. interest of stability and security in the Arabian Peninsula. AQAP is capable of every threat that has been uttered against the US and western countries.
The US as well as the other western territories that are considered allies against AQAP, can end or at least moderate the terroristic threat by “interdicting terrorists, disrupt their planning, restrict their travel, reduce the flow of financial (EO 13224 signed 9/23/01) and material support to terrorist groups, and enable partner governments to assert control over weakly governed territory where terrorists find sanctuary” (US Department of State, 2005). The Antiterrorism Assistance program is a well used deterrent against FTO’s such as AQAP. The AQAP became a bigger threat than al Qaeda, and the instability and security issues within the Arabian Peninsula are threats we must contend with.
With the knowledge and training gained since the imperative attacks on American soil in 2001, we can deter and detain these terrorists and protect our homeland and allies. The ideologies and animosity against the US and other western nations are targeted towards the recruiting of others who sympathize with al Qaeda. Preemptive and retaliatory methods are other forces to use to impede the AQAP’s threats and/or attacks. It is also noted in the Country Reports that by American’s helping partner nations in the quest for improving their abilities to detect and prevent terrorist activities this will clearly enhance the overall security of all nations (US Department of State, 2005).
Boucek, Christopher (2010). Terrorism out of Yemen. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Retrieved from http://carnegieendowment.org/publications/index.cfm?fa=view&id=41705 References
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