Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, suspected of having ties to the attackers in Paris, is the most active of the terror network’s branches in trying to strike in the West.
There are indications that the group inspired, financed or directly plotted the attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. If so, it would be the Yemen-based branch’s first successful strike outside its home territory.
That would be a triumph for its trademark double-strategy: Waging jihad in Yemen to build its strength to strike abroad.
The group, the product of a merger between the terror group’s Yemeni and Saudi branches, is blamed for a string of unsuccessful bomb plots against American targets.
Bill Roggio, editor of the Long War Journal, which chronicles militant activities, says Yemen’s branch of al-Qaeda has managed to seize territory inside Yemen, provide training and support for extremist groups operating in Syria, Iraq and other regions, and promote “lone wolf” attacks in the West.
“They are active in the heart of the Middle East. They threaten the Yemeni government and they are directing their activities externally as well,” he says. “And they are serving to train and support in other theaters.”