In Part I of Getting to Know al-Qaeda we all became familiarized with the faces of the original al-Qaeda group under bin Laden, Zawahari, and the remaining leadership.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that the same terrorist organization that once had the capability to kill 2,977 innocent civilians on U.S. soil by hijacking four passenger jets would find itself hard pressed today to blow up a McDonald’s in Islamabad. The leadership is dwindling, recruitment is faltering, and the face of al-Qaeda itself, Usama bin Laden, was shot in the face by U.S. special operators in his bedroom.

Due to the relentless pressure against al-Qaeda throughout the Afghan and Pakistani border regions by the CIA and its drone campaign, the top AQ commanders couldn’t even get together for their annual Fantasy Football Draft without one of them becoming intimately familiarized with the inner workings of an AGM-114 Hellfire missile.

Because of the continuous pounding against them, UBL and his commanders could not lead much less coordinate any operations throughout other areas of the world. That is where the off-shoots come in.

What some people fail to realize is that organizations such as AQ in the Arabian Peninsula, AQ in the Islamic Maghreb, and AQ in Iraq are nothing more then independently owned franchises with almost zero interaction with the original leadership. Hell, bin Laden and his cronies were too busy hiding between safe houses with their eyes glued to the sky for any signs of the CIA’s fleet of death dealers. UBL couldn’t interfere with the off-shoots if he tried. And the few times he did, he ended up telling al-Zarqawi (AQ Iraq) that his methods are too brutal and he needs to slow his roll.

al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (Yemen-based)

But one al-Qaeda group really managed to stand out from the others because of it’s strong leadership and sometimes superb organization:
al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

These are the same guys responsible for the Christmas Day underwear bomber, the 2009 Little Rock shooting, the 2010 cargo plane bomb plot, and even the USS Cole bombing.

Based primarily out of Yemen, AQAP has a strong following throughout Yemen and Saudi Arabia, and close relations with jihadis in the Horn of Africa. They have proven time and time again that they can reach U.S. shores, and it’s only a matter of time until one of their brazen plans against us succeeds.