Ever since the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. military and intelligence agencies have been battering al-Qaeda terrorists wherever they have found them. Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, everywhere. What used to be safe havens have now become graveyards. But other bastions have emerged in the meanwhile. Somalia and Yemen are two of them.
Al-Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate was bolstered by its merger in 2009 with the Saudi Arabian al-Qaeda affiliate forming al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). This merger poses a significant destabilization threat throughout the Arabian Peninsula.
Though Yemen still maintains vestiges of its tribal history, they are less pronounced than in Somalia. This allows al-Qaeda to utilize Yemen as an ideological base.
Al-Qaeda’s Saudi Arabian affiliate has significant media outlets from which it spreads ideological propaganda. The merger allowed the two affiliates to pool resources and reach a broader audience of potential recruits. The recent elimination of Qasim al-Rimi, the leader of AQAP, may end up slowing the growth of the group. Al-Rimi had committed unconscionable violent acts against civilians in Yemen and sought to conduct and inspire numerous attacks against the United States and its forces. President Trump believes that the elimination of al-Rimi will bring us closer to removing the threats this group poses to our national security.