August 27, 2015 | Quote
The U.S.-Backed War in Yemen Is Strengthening al Qaeda
The U.S.-backed war in Yemen has strengthened al Qaeda there, American defense officials concede, posing a serious threat to U.S. security.
Months into the U.S.-supported Saudi intervention in Yemen, fighters linked to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), long considered the terror group’s deadliest franchise, are closing on the southern port city of Aden, according to U.S. officials and local reports.
The land grabs marks the most important gains al Qaeda has made since March, when the Saudi military began its intervention into Yemen. And it gives the group more area to train, plot, and attack U.S. interests. As recently as earlier this month, AQAP called for its supporters to hit the United States, urging lone wolf attackers to strike.
“AQAP has insinuated itself among multiple factions on the ground, making itself more difficult to attack” through methods like the U.S. drone program, said Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a senior fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
More immediately, control of Aden’s ports could lead to threats on commercial ships traveling through the Gulf of Aden, Gartenstein-Ross said. The city is already infamous as the site of al Qaeda’s October 2000 suicide attack on the destroyer USS Cole that killed 17 American sailors and injured 39 others.
“Right now [Yemen is] below the radar, but it is not going to stay that way,” Gartenstein-Ross said.
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