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Yemen: Fighting al Qaeda in a Failing State The Security and Economic Situation and Considerations for the Way Forward


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Title: Yemen: Fighting al Qaeda in a Failing State The Security and Economic Situation and Considerations for the Way Forward

Yemen Fighting al Qaeda in a Failing State The
Security and Economic Situation and
Considerations for the Way Forward
  • Presented by Frederick W. Kagan and Christopher
    Harnisch of the American Enterprise Institutes
    Critical Threats Project
  • Slides Prepared by Christopher Harnisch and
    Katherine Zimmerman

Topics To Be Covered
  • 1) The Security and Economic Situation
  • -Al Houthi conflict, southern secessionists,
    resource depletion, other factors contributing to
    the weak economy
  • 2) Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • -Bin Ladens view on Yemen, location of AQAP
    strongholds, history, leaders, group dynamics,
    attacks, ideology and rhetoric
  • 3) U.S. Strategy
  • -Recent U.S. strategy, U.S. cooperation with and
    support for Yemen,
  • Yemens current strategy for combating AQAP,
    U.S. considerations for the way forward

Yemen Basics
  • Area 203,796 square miles roughly twice the
    size of Wyoming
  • Climate Mostly desert hot and humid along west
    coast temperate in western mountains affected by
    seasonal monsoon extraordinarily hot, dry, harsh
    desert in east
  • Terrain Ranges from coastal plains to
    flat-topped hills and rugged mountains
  • Elevation extremes from sea level to Jabal an
    Nabi Shu'ayb at 12,030 ft
  • Religious composition 60 Sunni 30-40 Zaydi
    Shiite (concentrated primarily in the northwest)

Terrain of Yemen
Yemen From Arabia to Africa
  • Yemens position in the Gulf of Aden makes it an
    ideal location from which to stage attacks,
    especially on energy and shipping targets
  • Eritrea has reportedly served as a staging ground
    for weapons-smuggling into Yemen
  • Somalias al Shabaab have pledged support for
  • More than 160,000 Somali refugees reportedly in
  • U.S. military base in Djibouti

Image courtesy of National Geospatial
Intelligence Agency
Yemen Basic History and Politics
  • Republic of Yemen formed from the unification of
    the northern Yemen Arab Republic and the southern
    Peoples Democratic Republic of Yemen on May 22,
  • Yemen Arab Republic (1962-1990)
  • Became independent imamate in 1918 upon collapse
    of Ottoman Empire ruled by Haashemite Imam
  • North Yemen Civil War (1962-1970) Gamal abd al
    Nasser (Egypt) established the Yemen Arab
    Republic, sparking a proxy war when Saudi Arabia
    supported the deposed ruler, Imam al Badr
  • Peoples Democratic Republic of Yemen
  • Former British colony, known as the Aden
    Protectorate, that gained independence in 1967 as
    the Peoples Republic of South Yemen
  • 1969 Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP) came to power,
    changed name in 1970 to the Peoples Democratic
    Republic of Yemen
  • South is characterized by its Marxist roots and
    is the site of most oil reserves

Yemen Basic History and Politics (cont.)
  • President Ali Abdullah Saleh
  • President of YAR since 1978, only president of
    the Republic of Yemen
  • Last re-elected in 2006 with 77 of the vote for
    a term of seven years (outside observers deemed
    the election relatively free and fair)
  • Zaydi Shia (but not Haashemite), member of the
    General Peoples Congress party
  • Yemens Political Parties
  • General Peoples Congress northern-based party
    from YAR, ruling political party that controls
    most of the parliamentary seats
  • Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) six-party opposition
    coalition formed 11/2005, supported Faysal bin
    Shamlan in 2006 presidential elections
  • Al Islah Party Islamist party whose members
    formerly were generally members of the GPC, now
    member of the Joint Meeting Parties coalition
  • Yemeni Socialist Party southern-based party from
    the PDRY that constitutes the main opposition
    party in Yemen, member of the Joint Meeting
    Parties coalition

(No Transcript)
Al Houthi Insurgency (northern provinces)
  • President Saleh launched OPERATION SCORCHED EARTH
    on August 11, 2009 to eradicate the al Houthi
  • Operation believed to include anywhere from
    one-third to one-half of Yemens total military
  • The current operation is the sixth round of
    fighting between the rebels and the government
    the current conflict began in 2004
  • November 4, 2009 Saudi Arabia openly began
    airstrikes and ground assaults on rebel targets
    on the Saudi side of the border rebels have
    accused Riyadh of operating on the Yemeni side of
    the border and killing civilians
  • On Dec. 26, Saudi said all rebels driven from
    Saudi territory, but strikes continue
  • Yemen and Riyadh accuse al Houthis of receiving
    Iranian support
  • Numerous previous ceasefires and unilateral
    Yemeni withdraws have failed
  • The conflict has generated over 175,000 IDPs

Roots of the al Houthi Conflict
  • Al Houthi family belongs to Zaydi sect of Shiite
    Islam and the Haashimite line (i.e. traces
    bloodline to the Prophet)
  • President Saleh is Zaydi, but not Haashimite
  • Haashimite Zaydis ruled northern Yemen from
  • Saleh is a secularist, but fears that Haashimite
    claims to the Imamate could damage his legitimacy
    within the Zaydi community that dominates the
    government and armed forces
  • Al Houthis are now led by Abdul Malik al Houthi,
    the younger brother of the groups founder and
    first leader, Husayn Badr al Din al Houthi
  • Zaydis have accused Yemeni govt of
    marginalization for decades, and in the mid-90s
    Zaydis founded a political and paramilitary Zaydi
    revivalist youth group called Believing Youth
    to counter govt
  • Followers of the Believing Youth led by Husayn
    Badr al Din al Houthi held anti-govt and
    anti-American protests after Saleh aligned
    himself with U.S. following 9/11
  • Govt responded by attempting to arrest Husayn
    Badr al Din al Houthi and his followers in June
    2004 and killing him in Sept. 2004
  • Fighting has continued on and off ever since

Grievances and Accusations of al Houthi Conflict
  • Govt says that al Houthis plan to reinstate
    imamate (al Houthis deny this)
  • Govt claims that al Houthis are supported by
    Iran and has attempted to claim an al Qaeda
  • Al Houthis blame govt for economic and social
    neglect, corruption, aligning with U.S. and
    Saudi, and too much Wahhabi influence
  • By Aug. 2009, al Houthis had taken control of
    much of Saada province, blocked roads, raided
    and blockaded military installations, arrested
    soldiers, kidnapped teachers and foreigners,
    taken control of 63 schools, attacked mosques and
    govt buildings

Al Houthi Al Qaeda Connection?
  • NO evidence supports this claim
  • Ideologically, the only common denominator
    between the groups is that they both oppose the
    central government
  • - Al Houthis have used anti-American and
    anti-Israeli rhetoric to garner popular support
  • AQAP commander in November called on Sunnis to
    fight al Houthi rebels
  • Two AQAP members were found dead in northern
    Yemen in late September, but likely not involved
    in the al Houthi conflict

Al Houthi Al Qaeda Connection?
  • NO evidence supports this claim
  • Ideologically, the only common denominator
    between the groups is that they both oppose the
    central government
  • - Al Houthis have used anti-American and
    anti-Israeli rhetoric to garner popular support
  • AQAP commander in November called on Sunnis to
    fight al Houthi rebels
  • Two AQAP members were found dead in northern
    Yemen in late September, but likely not involved
    in the al Houthi conflict

Southern Movement (southern provinces)
  • Umbrella group for southern-based secessionist
  • Leaders include southern elites and former
    government figures such as Tariq al Fadhli and
    Ali Salim al Beidh (in exile)
  • Al Fadhli joined the movement in April, calling
    for secession
  • Al Beidhs speeches are broadcast from abroad at
    southern rallies
  • Characterized by mass anti-government
    demonstrations in major southern cities such as
    Aden, Zinjibar, and Dhaleh
  • Militant factions of the movement have targeted
    government personnel and buildings in the south
  • Yemeni govt has accused the Southern Movement of
    colluding with al Qaeda

Roots of the Southern Movement
  • Secessionist strongholds are located in the
    former Peoples Democratic Republic of Yemen
  • The PDRY merged with the former Yemen Arab
    Republic (YAR) in May 1990 with Sanaa as the
  • Power-sharing agreement gave presidency to former
    YAR president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, and the
    vice-presidency to former PDRY president, Ali
    Salim al Beidh
  • 1993 parliamentary elections changed the power
    dynamics when the southern-based Yemeni Socialist
    Party won only 69 of 301 seats
  • Civil war broke out May 4, 1994 after
    negotiations collapsed
  • July 7, 1994 marked the end of the war, when
    northern forces entered the former PDRY capital,
    Aden, and southern leaders fled
  • In 2007, southern military officers demonstrated
    against the government, demanding the
    reinstatement of their pensions
  • Other southerners joined in the demonstrations to
    voice concerns over economic and politic exclusion

Grievances and Accusations of the Southern
  • Grievances stem from perceived marginalization by
    the northern-dominated government after 1990
    unification and include
  • Economic and political marginalization
  • Illegal land seizures following 1994 civil war
  • Forced retirements from civil and military
  • Withholding of military pensions from officers
  • Govt has used increasingly repressive tactics
    against demonstrators, resulting in several
    deaths during rallies
  • Govt closed down several media outlets for
    inciting sedition over the summer of 2009 and
    arrested over 500 southern elites
  • Increased presence of govt troops, generally
    northerners, fuels feeling of occupation in the
    south by the north

Violence in the South, But Not Yet a Civil War
  • Outbreaks of violence and targeted strikes by
    militant elements of the Southern Movement has
    required an increased troop presence in South
  • March and April 2008 Demonstrations turn violent
    (fire set to police and army targets)
  • July 23, 2009 Zinjibar Massacre at least 16
    die when police try to break-up demonstration
  • July 28, 2009 Secessionist militants ambush
    military convoy killing 4 soldiers, and bomb
    headquarters of ruling political party
  • Sep. 28 Oct. 5, 2009 Demonstration turns
    violent leading to days of clashes resulting in
    dozens of injuries, a few deaths, and arrests
  • Nov. 25, 2009 5 die when police clash with
  • Nov. 27, 2009 Militant secessionists shout down
    Sanaa-Aden road
  • Dec. 4, 2009 1 dies as demonstration turns
  • Dec. 21, 2009 Yemen demands extradition of
    former South Yemen presidents
  • Dec. 29, 2009 1 dies as demonstration turns
  • Jan. 11, 2009 Secessionists call for labor
    strikes in Dhale and Lahij provinces

Southern Movement Al Qaeda Connection?
  • No clear connection, but a potential connection
    exists, especially if U.S. becomes involved
  • Tariq al Fadhli, a recognized leader within the
    movement was a mujahid in Afghanistan from
  • In April 2009, al Fadhli defected from the
    government, which he supported in the 1994 civil
    war, to call for secession
  • Al Fadhli has been accused of permitting al Qaeda
    to establish training camps in Abyan governorate
  • In May 2009, al Wahayshi called for support for
    the souths secession from the north, and the
    establishment of an Islamic state
  • Overlap of strongholds could lead to coordination
    between Southern Movement and al Qaeda,
    especially if the government continues to exact
    civilian casualties in its pursuit of terrorism
  • Some tribes that align with the secessionists
    also provide shelter to al Qaeda

Yemens Natural Resource Depletion
  • Oil accounts for approximately two thirds of
    public revenue and about 90 of income from
  • Weak oil economy has substantially affected
    Yemens oil revenues
  • The World Bank predicts that oil resources will
    run out by 2017
  • Natural gas facility opened in October 2009
  • Water is scarce and resources are strained by a
    fast-growing population and the increased growth
    of qat
  • World Bank estimates 125 cubic meters per capita
    available per year (world avg. is 2,500)
  • Recent reports indicate that Sanaas wells will
    be dry by 2015
  • Illegal well-drilling, leaky and rusted pipes,
    contribute to water waste
  • Yemeni-Saudi firm began 31 million desalination
    plant in Hodeidah province
  • Qat, considered a narcotic in the U.S. but legal
    in Yemen, uses about 40 of the available water
    in Sanaa and land is increasingly dedicated to
    growing the plant

Other Socio-Economic Considerations
  • Demographics population has tripled since 1975
    expected to reach 40M by 2030 66 of Yemenis
    under age 24 less than 1/3 of population lives
    in urban areas
  • Poverty annual income per capita 871 almost
    50 of Yemenis earn less than 2 per day
  • Unemployment 35 (conservative estimate)
  • Education national illiteracy - 46, female
    illiteracy 70 religious conservatives
    influential in school system Saudis fund much of
    religious education anti-American tone pervades
    in text books
  • Corruption widespread corruption, nepotism, and
    tribal preferences Yemens audit agency
    estimates 30 of govt revenue never makes it to
    govt accounts
  • At least 160,000 Somali refugees in the country

The Perfect Storm
  • The combination of Yemens numerous security
  • and socio-economic challenges has allowed al
  • Qaeda to establish a safe-haven in Yemen and
  • take advantage of a vulnerable population.

Bin Laden on Yemen
  • 1997 Reportedly sends an envoy to Yemen to
    assess if it could be used as a base if the
    Taliban expelled him
  • 1998 In Yemen we have strong and old
    linksbesides the fact that my roots and my
    fathers roots go back there.
  • 2000 Married a Yemeni woman in Afghanistan
  • 2000 Appeared in a recruitment video wearing the
    traditional Yemeni jambiya sword
  • 2003 Areas most in need of liberation are
    Jordan, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia,
  • 2003 Youth of Islamespecially in the
    neighboring countries and Yemen You must roll up
    your sleeves and prepare for jihad.
  • 2006 Abdullah Salehis an obedient American

Roots of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • AQAP officially formed in January 2009 with the
    merger of the Yemeni and Saudi al Qaeda
  • At time of merger, the Saudi al Qaeda leaders
    pledged allegiance to the al Qaeda in Yemen
    leader, Nassir al Wahayshi
  • The merger was necessary from the perspective of
    Saudi al Qaeda leaders because the Kingdom has
    effectively denied al Qaeda a haven in Saudi
    Arabia since 2004

AQAPs Presence in Yemen
Before the Merger al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia
  • Saudi had been a place of sentimental and
    strategic importance for AQ since before 9/11
    bin Laden envisioned it as the seat of a
    Caliphate, and it received considerable recruits
    and funding from within Saudi
  • In mid-2003, AQs leadership debated the merits
    of attacking targets within Saudi preserve a
    safe-haven or destabilize the regime?
  • Al Qaeda in Saudi launched a string of deadly
    attacks from May 2003-December 2004 sparking a
    crackdown by Saudi authorities
  • Groups most effective leader, Abdul Aziz al
    Muqrin killed in June 2004
  • In mid-2005, a Riyadh daily declared al Qaeda in
    Saudi eliminated
  • Last major attack attempt in Saudi suicide
    bombing foiled at Abqaiq oil facility in February

Before the Merger Al Qaeda in Yemen
  • Al Qaeda active in Yemen from 2000-2002 failed
    USS The Sullivans attack, successful USS Cole and
    French Limburg attacks
  • Al Qaeda in Yemen leader and five operatives
    killed by U.S. drone in November 2002
  • No major attacks from 2003-2005
  • Al Qaeda in Yemen begins to regroup following
    February 2006 Sanaa prison break
  • Among the escapees were Nasser al Wahayshi and
    Qasim al Raymi (currently the AQAP leader and a
    deputy, respectively)

Before the Merger Al Qaeda in Yemen (cont.)
  • Nov. 7, 2006 al Qaeda in Yemen takes credit for
    suicide car bombings at American and Canadian oil
    facilities in eastern Yemen
  • June 20, 2007 al Raymi releases audio tape
    announcing al Qaeda in Yemen will continue
    attacks on Peninsula and identifies al Wahayshi
    as its leader
  • In 2007 and 2008, al Qaeda in Yemen launched a
    string of small-scale attacks
  • Targets included energy sector, tourists, govt
    buildings, army checkpoints, and the U.S. embassy

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
Organization Chart
Sheikh Anwar al Awlaki (Influential spiritual
figure within AQAP)
Nasser al Wahayshi (Leader)
Said al Shiri (Deputy AQAP leader, former
Guantanamo detainee)
Qasim al Raymi (Deputy AQAP leader, Arhab cell
AQAP Deputies
AQAP Cell Commanders
Potential other unknown cell commanders
Hizam Mujali (AQAP commander)
Former Senior AQAP Members
Mohammed Saleh al Kazimi (Deceased, Abyan cell
Mohamed Atiq Awayd al Harbi (Turned self into
Saudis, former Guantanamo detainee)
AQAP Group Dynamics
  • Estimates of operatives range from a low of 50 to
    a high of several thousand
  • The number of sympathizers and supporters is much
    higher estimates place the number of veterans of
    previous jihads in Yemen at 20,000
  • AQAP relies on tribal support for shelter
    recently has adopted the strategy of marrying
    into tribes to earn the loyalty of tribes
  • Operatives work in cells around the country
  • AQAP portrays itself as the protector of the
    people to win popular support
  • AQAP members come from multiple countries high
    concentrations from Yemen, Saudi, Egypt, Pakistan
    and Somalia
  • AQAP appears to have operational links
    transferring of weapons and fighters with al
    Shabaab in Somalia, and maybe al Qaeda in the
    Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)

2009 AQAP Attacks
  • March 14 Suicide bombing, executed by Abu Obedia
    al Jarrah, hit a group of South Korean tourists
    in Hadramawt
  • March 18 Second suicide attack by AQAP on South
    Korean diplomatic convoy to Sanaa executed by
    Shamel al Sanaani
  • August 27 Abdullah al Asiri detonated suicide
    bomb targeting Saudi Deputy Interior Minister
    Prince Mohammed bin Nayef
  • November 3 AQAP ambushes and kills seven Yemeni
    security officials near the Saudi border,
    including three senior officials
  • November 26 AQAP released video showing
    interrogation and execution of Bassam Tarbush,
    head of security in Marib
  • December 25 AQAP claims responsibility for
    Christmas Day attack on Detroit-bound Flight 253

Conservative Estimate of al Qaeda Attack
Casualties in Saudi Arabia and Yemen Prior to AQAP
Non-Western casualties tended to be foreign
workers, but were not targeted by al Qaeda
AQAPs Ideology and Objectives (Historical
  • Al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia sought to drive U.S.
    personnel out of Saudi, destabilize the Saudi
    regime, and set up a Caliphate
  • Al Qaeda in Yemen sought to drive Crusaders off
    the Peninsula, end Yemens cooperation with the
    U.S., hurt U.S. economy because of wars in Iraq
    and Afghanistan, and set up Caliphate

AQAPs Ideology and Objectives
  • Seeks to establish an Islamic state on the
    Arabian Peninsula (AQAP leaders appear in front
    of the Islamic State of Iraq flag upon founding)
  • Defeat the Crusader occupation and invasion of
    ALL Islamic lands, especially in the Arabian
  • Weaken and overthrow the governments of Yemen and
    Saudi Arabia
  • Enemies America, Jews, polytheists, Shiites, any
    govt that cooperates with the U.S. and any
    Muslim that works with or protects non-Muslims on
    the Peninsula
  • Strong emphasis put on the need to support
    Palestinians and liberate Jerusalem

Quotations Reflecting AQAPs Ideology (Wahayshi,
January 2009)
.Also, fighting in the Cause of Allah and the
oppressed is a necessary condition to spread the
principles of Islam, establish the State of Islam,
and preserve the structure of the Islamic
Ummah from outside encroachment.    . the
main supporters of the occupation
of Palestine are America and Europe, so we must
destroy them and the Crusader interests that are
spread over the Arabian Peninsula,
including Yemen. They must be struck to support
Palestine.    .Prophet Muhammad said
Expel the polytheists from the Arabian
Peninsula.There cannot be two religions in
the Arabian Peninsula.    .whoever thinks
that Palestine will be liberated without breaking
the siege of the traitors around it is delusional
and blowing into ashes. Salahuddinbegan by
liberating the Levant, the Arabian
Peninsula, and Egypt from the traitors and
agents, and the worship of the polytheistic
infidels. After he liberated the internal
front, he then went directly to liberate Jerusale
m.    .The Crusader campaign against our
peopleutilizes the Arabian Peninsula as an
area for their bases. The American, British, and
French fleets and bases in the Arabian Peninsula
are only protection for the jews.The rulers of
the Arabian Peninsula are complicit, for the
ruler of Yemen....he is a true supporter. Ali
Abdullah Saleh supports the Crusader campaign
with all forms of logistical and military support
to combat our brothers in Palestine. .More
than five-thousand soldiers and others were
killed at the hands of the Shi'ites in
Sa'da, not including inhabitants there!....Others
say that we are infidel-branding renegades! They
themselves to do not dare to speak of the truth
of the Shiites, and their role in destroying
Islam throughout history.
Shift in AQAP Rhetoric Towards Targeting the U.S.
  • Late Oct., Wahayshi calls on followers to attack
    airports and trains in West using homemade bombs
  • Early Nov., Saudi Commander of AQAP identified
    Crusaders, among them America and NATO as the
    first enemy
  • Late Nov., AQAP executes Yemeni spy after forcing
    him to confess that Saleh is an agent of America
  • Following 12/17 and 12/24 airstrikes on AQAP
    strongholds, AQAP increased its rhetoric toward
  • AQAP warned of more attacks against U.S. in
    statement taking credit for Christmas Day attack

Notable U.S. Visits to Yemen in 2009
  • March 16, 2009 Deputy National Security Advisor
    John Brennan visited to discuss counterterrorism
  • July 26, 2009 General Petraeus met with
    President Saleh to discuss bilateral relations
  • August 16, 2009 Delegation of senators,
    including Senators Joseph Lieberman, Susan
    Collins, and Lindsey Graham, led by Senator John
    McCain, met with President Saleh to discuss
    counterterrorism cooperation
  • October 4, 2009 Vice Admiral William H.
    McRaven, Commander of U.S. Joint Special
    Operations Command, met with President Saleh to
    discuss U.S.-Yemeni cooperation against AQAP
  • November 10, 2009 Representatives from the U.S.
    Armed Forces Joint Staff, led by Brig. Gen.
    Jeffrey Smith, met with Yemeni counterparts to
    discuss security cooperation
  • January 2, 2010 General Petraeus met with
    President Saleh to discuss U.S.-Yemeni relations,
    especially regarding counterterrorism efforts

2009 U.S.-Yemen Cooperation
  • Yemen is a recipient of Department of Defense
    Section 1206 funds for building partnership
  • Primary recipients are Yemeni Special Operations
    Forces (YSOF), Yemeni Army 11th Brigade, Central
    Repair Base
  • Funds have gone towards cross-border security and
    counterterrorism efforts, YSOF development,
    helicopters with night vision, Coast Guard patrol
    boats, and counter-IED training and equipment
  • January 21, 2009 Deputy Assistant Director of
    the FBI James W. McJunkin delivered thirty
    biometric collection systems to Yemen as part of
    the counterterrorism initiative
  • November 3, 2009 A delegation of Yemeni military
    officers from the counterterrorism unit, coast
    guard and army special forces observed U.S.
    Marine Corps training at Paris Island

December 2009 Strikes on AQAP
  • December 10 drone strike in North Waziristan,
  • Shpalga, Pakistan Saleh al Somali, head of al
    Qaedas external operations and possibly
    responsible for transfer of militants to Yemen,
  • Dec.17 strikes in Arhab, Sanaa, and Abyan
    supported by U.S. missiles and intelligence
  • Arhab district
  • Nawbah Operation killed Hani al Shualan (225)
    and two others, injured a fourth
  • Al Tabbah Operation Qasim al Raymi, Hizam Saleh
    Mujali and third escaped
  • Bayt Mujali Operation arrested Aref Mujali and
    seven others
  • Al Majalah, Abyan
  • Targeted house of Abdul Munem al Qahtani
  • Mohammed al Kazimi, among others, including
    foreigners, was killed
  • Sanaa City Fourteen arrested with ties to the
    Arhab cell
  • December 24 strike in Rafadh area of al Said,
  • Rafadh About 30 al Qaeda suspects killed in
    strike targeting hide-out where Nasser al
    Wahayshi, Said al Shihri, and Anwar al Awlaki had
    been meeting

U.S. Foreign Assistance to Yemen
  • Noticeable increase in foreign assistance to
  • 55.5 million requested for FY 2010, nearly
    triple the amount requested for FY2008 19.8
  • Foreign Military Financing (FMF) restored to just
    above FY2007 levels after dropping considerably
    in FY2008 and FY2009

Source Congressional Research Service, Yemen
Background and U.S. Relations, July 2009
Select U.S. Foreign Assistance to
Yemen (2000-2009)
Source U.S. Overseas Loans and Grants Database
(1999-2007 data) Congressional Research Service,
Yemen Background and U.S. Relations, July 2009
Department of Defense 1206 Account
FY2009 Budget Breakdown 5.9 for aerial
surveillance helicopters with night vision 30.1
million for Coast Guard patrol 2 boats,
radios 25 million for border security 360 4x4
armored pickup trucks 5.8 million for IED
Yemen FY2006 FY2007 FY2008 FY2009
USD in Millions 4.3 26 0 66.8
Source Congressional Research Service, Yemen
Background and U.S. Relations, July 2009
Yemens Current Offensive
  • Yemen has deployed hundreds of troops in
    eastern Yemen and has deployed thousands of
    troops to target AQAP
  • December 30 Mohammed Abdu Saleh al Hawdali
    arrested in Hodeidah
  • January 4 two al Qaeda militants killed and
    three injured in Arhab Qasim al Raymi and Hizam
    Mujali likely among dead
  • January 6 three al Qaeda suspects arrested in
    hospital in Amran after being treated for
    injuries sustained in previous clash
  • January 8 eight al Qaeda members arrested in
    Arhab district, one in Majzar district of Marib
  • January 10 seven al Qaeda suspects arrested
    northeast of Sanaa
  • January 12 reported al Qaeda cell leader in
    Shabwa, Abullah al Mehdhar, killed

Need for More Than Just Counterterrorism
  • Focusing only on precision strikes on terrorist
    strongholds and leaders has failed previously
  • The U.S., with Yemeni support, killed al Qaeda in
    Yemen leader in Nov. 2002, and al Qaeda rebuilt
    there four years later
  • Strategy has also failed in Afghanistan and
  • U.S. helped establish and build up capacity of
    Yemeni Coast Guard, and it has used Special
    Forces to train the Yemeni security apparatus
  • This did not prevent al Qaeda from settling in
    the country

Boots on the Ground???
  • AQAP already portrays itself as the protector of
    the people a U.S. invasion would only enhance
    this image
  • Tribal conflict some tribes most which are
    heavily armed would remain loyal to Saleh,
    others would support AQAP
  • Potential alliance between AQAP and southern
    secessionists --- south would likely break away
    from Sanaa
  • Iran could increase support of al Houthis
  • Large naval contingency required to prevent
    arrival of new mujahideen and support from state
    actors, such as Iran
  • Harsh fighting conditions very hot (often
    humid), very mountainous
  • Rebuilding a country plagued by corruption, weak
    security apparatus, and a lack of natural
    resources would be challenging
  • Heavily armed population with extensive
    experience in guerilla warfare

The Way Forward
  • Comprehensive strategy focused on enhancing
    security, preventing Yemen from becoming a failed
    state, and alleviating the conditions conducive
    to a terrorist safe-haven
  • Saleh is not an ideal partner, but he is who we
    have to work with a failed state would nearly
    guarantee an al Qaeda safe-haven
  • Must work to increase security and intelligence
    capabilities of Yemeni security apparatus
  • Must help Saleh defeat the al Houthi rebels and
    address other perceived threats
  • Cannot tie aid to only targeting al Qaeda
  • Must work to prevent a military conflict with
    southern secessionists and disentangle southern
    tribes from AQAP
  • Must enhance aid and development support to Yemen
  • Aid should focus on increasing economic
    opportunities, addressing resource depletion
    (including the qat addiction), reforming and
    improving education, democracy and governance
    (including ending corruption)

Appendix to Yemen Brief
  • AQAP Leader Profiles and List of Major al Qaeda
    Attacks in Saudi Arabia and Yemen Prior to
    Formation of AQAP

AQAP Leaders and Figures
  • Nasser al Wahayshi (Abu Basir)
  • Leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula
  • Served in Afghanistan as bin Ladens aid
  • Fled to Iran after fighting in the battle of Tora
    Bora in December 2001 arrested in Iran in early
  • Extradited to Yemen in 2003, with eight others
  • Escaped in the February 2006 prison break
  • Officially recognized as al Qaeda in Yemens
    leader June 21, 2007 (although was likely serving
    as its head by mid-2006)
  • Became leader of AQAP in January 2009
  • Issued multiple statements calling on Muslims to
    rebel against Arab regimes, especially in Saudi
    Arabia and Yemen
  • Said to have survived the 12/24 strike,

AQAP Leaders and Figures
  • Said al Shihri (Abu Sufyan al Azdi)
  • Guantanamo 372
  • Deputy Leader of AQAP
  • Captured in Pakistan in December 2001 and later
    sent to Guantanamo
  • Transferred to Saudi Arabias terrorist
    rehabilitation facility on November 9, 2007
  • Believed to have coordinated the September 2008
    bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa
  • January 2009 became the deputy leader of AQAP
  • May 27, 2009 listed by Defense Intelligence
    Agency as re-engaged in terrorism
  • September 27, 2009 called for donations to AQAP
  • Said to have survived the 12/24 strike,

AQAP Leaders and Figures
  • Mohamed Atiq Awayd al Harbi
  • (Abu Hareth Muhammed al Awfi)
  • Guantanamo 333
  • Captured in Pakistan in 2001
  • name found on document recovered from former
    residence of bin Laden
  • member of al Irata and mujahid at Kandahar
  • Transferred to Saudi Arabias terrorist
    rehabilitation facility on November 9, 2007
  • January 2009 spoke in initial AQAP video
  • February 17, 2009 turned himself in to the Saudi
    authorities (allegedly pressured to by female
    members of his family)

AQAP Leaders and Figures
  • Qasim al Raymi (Abu Hurayrah)
  • AQAP Arhab cell leader
  • Arrested and escaped in the February 2006 prison
  • Became deputy leader of al Qaeda in Yemen
  • His June 21, 2007 audio statement announced al
    Qaeda in Yemens reestablishment with al Wahayshi
    as leader
  • Believed to have masterminded July 2, 2007
    suicide car bomb that killed eight Spanish
    tourists in Marib
  • Appeared in January 2009 initial AQAP video
  • Reportedly running a training camp in Abyan
  • Reportedly killed in 1/4 raid in Arhab,

AQAP Leaders and Figures
  • Hizam Mujali
  • AQAP Commander
  • Reportedly member of 15-man cell that launched
    the attack on the French tanker Limburg on
    October 6, 2002
  • Resisted arrest in 2003 and killed a Yemeni
    police officer
  • Escaped in the February 2006 prison break
  • Turned himself in to authorities and struck a
    deal renouncing al Qaeda in exchange for his
  • Reportedly reconnected with Qasim al Raymi

AQAP Leaders and Figures
  • Mohammed Saleh al Kazimi
  • AQAP Abyan cell leader
  • Named as suspect in July 2, 2007 suicide car bomb
    that killed eight Spanish tourists in Marib
  • Reportedly ran a training camp in Abyan province
  • Killed in 12/17 strike in Abyan, confirmed

AQAP Leaders and Figures
  • Sheikh Anwar al Awlaki
  • Influential figure in AQAP
  • Influential American-Yemeni whose radicalized
    teachings are readily available online and who is
    accessible via his blog
  • Connections found to 9/11 hijackers, the Virginia
    11, 7/7 bombers, Toronto 18, Fort Hood shooting,
    and Christmas day attack
  • 44 Ways to Support Jihad, calls on all Muslims
    to engage in jihad
  • FBI opened inquiry into activities in 1999-2000
  • Investigated for connection to two 9/11 hijackers
  • Arrested in Yemen for al Qaeda ties in 2006,
    supposedly at the U.S.s behest, released 18
    months later
  • Indications that he is a recruiter and is
  • Said to have survived the 12/24 strike,

Major al Qaeda in Yemen Attacks (AQIY) Prior to
  • 9/17/2008 U.S. Embassy targeted by VBIED in
  • 8/7/2008 Police convoy targeted in grenade
    attack in Hadramawt
  • 6/25/2008 Oil refinery hit in rocket attack in
  • 5/30/2008 Adens oil refineries and pipelines
    targeted in mortar attack
  • 4/30/2008 Italian embassy targeted in mortar
    attack in Sanaa
  • 4/23/2008 Police station damaged in grenade
    attack in Hadramawt
  • 4/16/2008 3 police officers killed, 4 civilians
    wounded in landmine explosion by suspected AQIY
    in Ma'rib
  • 4/12/2008 Water tank damaged in mortar attack by
    in Sanaa
  • 4/6/2008 Several houses damaged in mortar attack
  • 3/18/2008 1 police officer, 1 child killed, 22
    civilians, 5 police officers wounded in mortar
    attack in Sanaa
  • 1/18/2008 5 civilians killed, 3 others wounded
    in attack in Hadramawt

Major AQIY Attacks Prior to 2009 (cont.)
  • 11/5/2007 Oil pipeline damaged in IED attack in
  • 8/9/2007 Government building, police checkpoint,
    and power station damaged in armed attack by
    suspected AQIY in Ma'rib
  • 7/2/2007 10 civilians killed, 8 others wounded
    in VBIED attack by suspected AQIY Ma'rib
  • 9/15/2006 Synchronized car VBIEDs targeting
    American and Canadian-owned oil facilities
    attempted in al Dhaba, Hadramawt and Safir,
  • 12/4/2003 Assassination of the director
    intelligence of Ibb province
  • 12/30/2002 3 American missionary doctors killed
    and another wounded in Jibla by Islamic extremist
    who spoke with al Qaeda members before attack
  • 10/6/2002 Attack on MV Limburg reminiscent of
    attack on USS Cole
  • 4/4/2002 Small explosion near U.S. embassy in
  • 10/13/2000 Bomb exploded at UK embassy in
    Sanaa, no casualties
  • 10/12/2000 Attack USS Cole killed 17 American
  • 1/3/2000 Failed attack on the USS Sullivans in
    Aden similar to USS Cole

Al Qaeda attacks in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Prior
to 2009
  • 2/24/2006 2 security guards wounded in suicide
    VBIED in Abqaiq
  • 6/30/2005 Security officer killed in armed
    attack by suspected al Qaeda near Mecca
  • 12/29/2004 4 civilians wounded in VBIED attack
    in Riyadh
  • 12/29/2004 Civilian killed in VBIED attack in
  • 12/6/2004 5 government employees killed, 3
    others, 4 civilians, 2 soldiers wounded in armed
    attack and bombing in Jiddah
  • 9/26/2004 contractor killed in armed attack by
    suspected al Qaeda in Jiddah
  • 9/15/2004 UK citizen killed in Riyadh
  • 8/30/2004 Civilians targeted in attack by
    suspected al Qaeda in Jiddah
  • 8/3/2004 Civilian killed by suspected al Qaeda
    in Riyadh
  • 6/12/2004 Contractor kidnapped, then killed in
  • 6/12/2004 Contractor killed in armed attack in

Al Qaeda attacks in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Prior
to 2009 (cont.)
  • 6/8/2004 Government contractor killed in armed
    attack in Riyadh
  • 6/6/2004 Journalist killed, another wounded in
    attack by suspected al Qaeda in Riyadh
  • 5/30/2004 22 civilians killed, 25 citizens
    wounded in armed attack and hostage attempt al
  • 5/1/2004 6 civilians killed, 19 police officers
    wounded in IED and armed attack in al Madinah
  • 4/21/2004 5 civilians killed, 148 wounded in
    suicide VBIED attack by suspected al Qaeda in
  • 4/13/2004 Militants open fire on checkpoint
    killing four police officers
  • 11/8/2003 Suicide car bombing in Riyadh housing
    complex killed 17 people and wounded over 120
  • 9/14/2003 Saudi marijuana trafficker beheaded
  • 5/12/2003 Synchronized suicide car bombings at
    three foreign compounds killed 26 people,
    including 9 U.S. citizens