Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula: Leaders and their networks

Article Highlights

  • Understanding #AQAP’s leadership will help define the challenge the US faces and underpin strategies to defeat the threat.

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  • Core #AQAP leaders have all been operational in #Yemen or Saudi Arabia for over a decade.

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  • AQAP's leaders and their networks by @KatieZimmerman

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Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is al Qaeda’s Yemen-based affiliate and has become the most operational al Qaeda node. The organization seeks to attack the United States and maintains the capability to conduct terrorist attacks. Understanding AQAP’s leadership will help define the challenge the U.S. faces, and underpin strategies to defeat the threat that AQAP poses to the United States and its allies.

Core leaders, such as AQAP leader Nasser al Wahayshi, deputy leader Said al Shihri, military commander Qasim al Raymi, explosives expert Ibrahim al Asiri, and shari’a official Ibrahim al Rubaish, have all been operational in Yemen or Saudi Arabia for over a decade and, in many cases, worked together prior to AQAP’s establishment in January 2009. Many of AQAP’s leaders, including Anwar al Awlaki, a Yemeni-American radical cleric killed in September 2011, were also in direct communication with al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden or his deputy, Atiyah Abd al Rahman, in Pakistan.

This slide deck provides information on AQAP’s leaders, both current and former, and their networks.

 

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About the Author

 

Katherine
Zimmerman
  • Katherine Zimmerman is a senior analyst and the al Qaeda and Associated Movements Team Lead for the American Enterprise Institute’s Critical Threats Project. Her work has focused on al Qaeda’s affiliates in the Gulf of Aden region and associated movements in western and northern Africa. She specializes in the Yemen-based group, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and al Qaeda's affiliate in Somalia, al Shabaab. Katherine has testified in front of Congress and briefed Members and congressional staff, as well as members of the defense community. She has written analyses of U.S. national security interests related to the threat from the al Qaeda network for the Weekly Standard, National Review Online, and the Huffington Post, among others. Katherine graduated with distinction from Yale University with a B.A. in Political Science and Modern Middle East Studies.


     


    Follow Katherine Zimmerman on Twitter.

  • Phone: (202) 828-6023
    Email: katherine.zimmerman@aei.org

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