April 1, 2012

U.S. Says AQAP Threat Grows After al-Awlaki's Death

The Obama administration is so desperate to preserve its influence with Ali Abdullah Saleh and Yemen's transitional government that it will admit defeat in order to maintain the status quo. No alternative strategy to Washington's isolated counterterrorism is visibly manifesting on Yemen's political or military battlefield:

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, is more of a threat today than it was six months ago despite the death of the American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, according to US officials familiar with the situation.

Asked if the Al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen was stronger and better positioned than it was at the time of Anwar al-Awlaki’s death Sept. 30 in a CIA drone strike, one official simply responded, “Yes.”

“AQAP has been on an upward trajectory,” Fox News was told. As the Al Qaeda affiliate has strengthened its base in southern Yemen, U.S. officials said the “expanded domestic footprint provides more room and more opportunity to invite operatives from abroad, more recruits to train and continue plotting external attacks.”

One U.S. official even characterized AQAP’s expansion since May of 2011 as “a bit of a land grab for them,” going as far as to describe how easy it had become for foreign jihadis to join Al Qaeda’s most active affiliate which has increasingly moved from a covert to an overt organization.

“I could take a flight to Aden and get in a taxi cab and tell them to take me to the AQAP check point and get out where (Al Qaeda’s) black flag is flying at the entrance to Zinjibar (another strategic port city in the south) and ask, 'how do I get in on the fun."

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