From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Wed Sep 14 2011 - 05:47:26 EDT
Al-Qaida in Yemen poses biggest threat, CIA says
Group's weakness after bin Laden's death seen as opportunity for U.S. and
By Ben Farmer, Daily Telegraph September 14, 2011 3:14 AM
The Yemen offshoot of al-Qaida has emerged as the "most dangerous" affiliate
of the group, David Petraeus, the new CIA director, has warned.
The threat from even a weakened core al-Qaida remains a concern for the
United States a decade after the 9/11 attacks, but the group's vulnerability
offers a window of opportunity, Petraeus said in prepared testimony for a
joint House-Senate intelligence committee hearing.
Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, known as AQAP, was behind the December
2009 plot to blow up a U.S. airliner as it approached Detroit and a 2010
effort to send bombs hidden in computer printers on two cargo aircraft that
were found at East Midlands airport in the U.K., he said.
Political unrest in Yemen has helped AQAP "co-opt local tribes and extend
its influence," Petraeus said.
"Despite all of this, counter-terrorism co-operation with Yemen has, in
fact, improved in the past few months," he said. "That is very important, as
we clearly have to intensify our collaboration and deny AQAP the safe haven
that it seeks to establish."
Al-Qaida's affiliates have their own command structures, resources and
operational agendas, and largely operate autonomously, Petraeus said. But
al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden's death in May was a "stunning blow" to the
group and his successor, Ayman al-Zawahri, is considered "less compelling as
a leader" by the group's followers. "We thus assess that he will have more
difficulty than did Osama bin Laden in maintaining the group's cohesion and
its collective motivation in the face of continued pressure.
"A vulnerable core al-Qaida amounts to a window of opportunity for us and
At the same hearing, James Clapper, the national intelligence director, said
AQAP was clearly a "determined enemy," citing the 2009 airliner plot.
His comments came as al-Qaida released a video applauding the Arab Spring
uprisings to mark the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Zawahiri, who took control of al-Qaida after the killing of Osama bin Laden,
said he hoped the revolutionaries would found Islamic states.
"America is denying the fact that it is not facing individuals or groups but
the whole ummah (Muslim community) of Islam," he said. "After the martyrdom
of Sheikh Osama, the Islamic face of the revolutions was shown. America's
arrogant nature will push it to deny the facts that it is facing a rising
ummah and that it may be a cause of defeat and its fall."
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