July 31, 2017 | Press Release

Al-Qaeda in the Arab Pen. Remains Well-Funded, Able to Continue Terror Activities, FDD Study Finds

Washington, D.C., July 31, 2017 – Al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP), the Yemen-based terror group that claimed responsibility for the 2015 Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, makes tens of millions of dollars a year in revenue and likely possesses enough cash reserves to sustain the organization’s ability to carry out attacks for the foreseeable future, according to a new report from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).

The report, “Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula: Financial Assessment,” finds that AQAP is well-funded despite a sharp decrease in the group’s revenue after the group last year lost control of the Mukalla port, which was netting the terror group roughly $2 million a day for 12 months. Based on FDD’s estimates, AQAP is likely now making in the low- to mid- tens of millions of dollars per year, mostly through ransoms, criminal opportunism, and donations. The group is expected to exploit the instability and sectarianism of Yemen’s civil war to raise more revenue.

Lead author Yaya J. Fanusie, a former CIA economic and counterterrorism analyst, writes that to help defeat AQAP, the U.S. should push for the G-8 prohibition on ransoms to also be adopted by the European Union. Such payments are a core source of revenue for AQAP. The U.S. also should make clear to Gulf states like Oman and Qatar that arranging for or paying ransoms is akin to funding terrorism. Congress should enable the President to place additional penalties or sanctions on countries of concern for directly or indirectly funding terrorism.

The AQAP financial assessment is the fifth part of “The Terror Finance Briefing Book,” produced by FDD’s Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance (CSIF). The four previous assessments cover: the Islamic State, Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda’s Branch in Syria, and Al-Shabaab. They detail the financial strengths and vulnerabilities of top terror groups, highlight possible “wildcard” scenarios which could impact future funding, and specific actions the United States should take to disrupt them.

When completed, “The Terror Finance Briefing Book” will be accompanied by CSIF’s Terrorism Designees Database. Until now, there has been no public database where researchers could quickly sort terrorism designees by nationality and organization.

Each report will be published with an appendix listing designated individuals and entities affiliated with the respective group.


For more information, contact pres[email protected] or 202.403.2904.


About FDD:

The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) is a Washington, DC-based non-partisan policy institute focusing on foreign policy and national security. Visit our website at www.defenddemocracy.org and connect with us on TwitterFacebook, and YouTube