OSINT Guide – Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula

Also Known As: al-Qa’ida in the South Arabian Peninsula; al-Qa’ida in Yemen; al-Qa’ida of Jihad Organization in the Arabian Peninsula; al-Qa’ida Organization in the Arabian Peninsula; Tanzim Qa’idat al-Jihad fi Jazirat al-Arab; AQAP; AQY; Ansar al-Shari’a

Description: The United States labeled Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)  as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) on January 19, 2010.   Nasir al-Wahishi, the leader of AQAP publicly announced a merger between Yemeni and Saudi al-Qa’ida (AQ) in 2009.  AQAP’s objectives include holding territory and enforcing Sharia law. On September 30, 2011, an American drone strike killed AQAP preacher Anwar al-Aulaqi, as well as Samir Khan, the publisher of  Inspire, AQAP’s propaganda periodical. Despite this threat mitigation, AQAP’s explosive expert Ibrahim al-Asiri is still alive and may be training members of the Khorasan Group in Syria.

Targets: Key targets of AQAP include Yemeni (Houthi) military and civic members, as well as foreign targets of opportunity.

Activities:  Key attacks of AQAP include targeting foreigners by the means of suicide bombers, an attempted aircraft bombings (Flight 253 and explosive ink packages), targeted assassinations of the leaders of Yemen’s military and government by the means of VBIEDs.

Diplomacy: AQAP has a mutually beneficial relationship with AQ, in particular the Nusra Front and the Khorasan Group. AQAP members have instructed these affiliates in bomb making techniques. AQAP has deemed ISIS a viable target.

Propaganda: TTP’s psychological operations wing is “Al-Malahem Media,” which has published the Inspire periodical in English.

Strength: AQAP has about one thousand members.

AO: Yemen

Funding and External Aid: AQAP’s funding primarily comes from transnational organized crime and foreign donations.

AQAP AO, courtesy of the NCTC

AQAP AO, courtesy of the NCTC

Local Media:

Al-Sharq al-Awsat.AQAP.” Accessed December 16, 2014.

Arab News. AQAP.” Accessed December 16, 2014.

Saba. AQAP.” Accessed December 16, 2014.

Saudi Gazette. AQAP.” Accessed December 16, 2014.

Saudi Press Agency. Al-Qaeda.” Accessed December 16, 2014.

Yemen Fox. AQAP.” Accessed December 16, 2014.

Yemen Observer. AQAP.” Accessed December 16, 2014.

Yemen Post. AQAP.” Accessed December 16, 2014.

Yemen Times. AQAP.” Accessed December 16, 2014.

Global Media:

BBC. “Profile: Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.” September 11, 2012. Accessed December 16, 2014.

CNN. “AQAP.” Security Clearance. October 13, 2013. Accessed December 16, 2014.

Foreign Affairs. AQAP.” Accessed December 16, 2014.

Foreign Policy. “AQAP.” Accessed December 16, 2014.

NYT. “AQAP.” Accessed December 16, 2014.

Vice. AQAP.” Accessed December 16, 2014.

WaPo. AQAP.” Accessed December 16, 2014.

Think Tanks / Academic:

AEI. “Yemen.” Accessed December 9, 2014.

Barry, Bob and Bill Roggio. “Charting the data for US air strikes in Yemen, 2002 – 2014.” LWJ. Accessed December 9, 2014.

Brookings. “AQAP.” Accessed December 9, 2014.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism. “Drone Strikes in Yemen.” Accessed December 9, 2014.

CFR. “AQAP.” Accessed December 9, 2014.

CFR. “Backgrounder: Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).” August 22, 2013. Accessed December 9, 2014.

CSIS. “AQAP.” Accessed December 9, 2014.

International Security. “Drone Wars Yemen: Analysis.” Accessed December 9, 2014.

Jihadology. “AQAP.” Accessed December 9, 2014.

Miller, Erin, and Kathleen Smarick. “Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Anwar al-Awlaki, and Samir Khan.” START. September 30, 2011. Accessed December 9, 2014.

SITE. “AQAP.” Accessed December 9, 2014.

Stanford University. “Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.” Mapping Militant Organizations. September 10, 2012. Accessed December 9, 2014.

TRAC. “AQAP.” Accessed December 16, 2014.

Government Sources:

CIA, “Yemen.” June 23, 2014. Accessed December 9, 2014.

CRS. “Al Qaeda-Affiliated Groups: Middle East and Africa.” October 10, 2014. Accessed December 9, 2014.

DIA. “Annual Threat Assessment.” February 11, 2014.

DoD. “Yemen.” Accessed December 9, 2014.

DoS. “AL-QA’IDA IN THE ARABIAN PENINSULA.” Chapter 6: Foreign Terrorist Organizations. Country Reports on Terrorism 2013.

——. “U.S. Relations With Yemen.” August 28, 2014. Accessed December 9, 2014.

——. “Yemen.” Accessed December 9, 2014.

O’Rourke, Ronald. “Navy Irregular Warfare and Counterterrorism Operations: Background and Issues for Congress.” July 31, 2014. Accessed December 9, 2014.

NCTC. “Al-Qa‘ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).” 2014. Accessed November 25, 2014.

Sharp, Jeremy H. “Yemen: Background and U.S. Relations.” November 19, 2014. Accessed December 9, 2014.

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