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.