Home > AL Qaeda, SAU, USA, YEM > Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (Part 1/3)

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (Part 1/3)

March 25, 2010

The following report is reprinted with permission from Yemen Times.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula  (Part 1/3)
©  Abdel Ilah Haidar Shae’e
Extracts from a paper delivered at the Afif Cultural Foundation
Source:  Yemen Times
Publication date:  March 20, 2010

Part 2
Part 3  (Final)

After Yemen and Saudi Arabia’s success in eliminating Al-Qaeda as a local organization in 2003 and 2006, this organization is now back with cross-border operations reaching the U.S., and Yemen as its new base for its regional leadership.

The last operation by Omar Farouk who tried to attack Detroit Airport has changed the concept of global security. This attack, adopted by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, redrew security systems in the west and the world, and moved Al-Qaeda in Yemen to the forefront of world news and the major future threats to the world.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was first founded by Osama Bin Laden when he sent out a message in the mid nineties last century headlined with “expel the infidels out of the Arabian Peninsula”.

The message was addressed to scholars, the National Guard, and the armed forces in Saudi Arabia. In this message, the first message which publicly declares Al-Qaeda’s existence in the Arabian Peninsula, America was named as the enemy and Saudi Arabia was described as occupied by foreign forces. Osama Bin Laden compared Mecca and Medina to the Aqsa Mosque in Palestine and said that Saudi Arabia was under a crusader Zionist occupation.

This paper tries to provide a simplified perspective on the organization that has succeeded to appear on an international level, even after the Saudi authority managed to eliminate its different parts and structure and after the Yemeni authorities also managed to control its different units, arrest and kill major founders. Today after years of quiet, Al-Qaeda is back in both countries, as the strongest and most active base in the world.

Reality of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula

There are two types of Al-Qaeda operating nationally and internationally. The first type is the leadership that has vital connections with the command center in Afghanistan. This type has an organizational structure and a strict decision making hierarchy.

The second operational type is the ideological system that is internationally known as the jihad movement that rejects every aspect of the western life and the supreme control of international organizations. This system seeks to reestablish the Islamic caliphate according to the hadith by the Prophet Mohammad, and jihad would be the tool for it.

The ideological system is broader than the leadership where separate entities sometimes are established as in the case of Al-Basha’ir, a cell that was established and organized in Saudi Arabia in 2006 after the security authorities of Saudi Arabia managed to eliminate the first organization and its different concepts.

Another separate entity that has emerged from the original organization is the “soldiers of Yemen” that was established mid-2007 in Yemen and another organization in another emirate headed by another “amir” or leader at the same time and place.

Al-Basha’ir merged with Al-Qaeda a few months after their establishment after issuing an announcement that had an echo greater than its actual field operations. On the other hand, the “soldiers of Yemen” was ended when its leaders were killed in Tarim, Hadramout, in August 2008. One of its feature operations was killing Spanish and Belgium tourists and attacking residential complexes in Sana’a belonging to American oil companies.

The current status of the organization became officially known as Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in January 2009 after Ayman Al-Dhawahiri, the second man in the organization, blessed the emirate of Nasser Al-Wahaishi, also known as Abu Baseer, describing him as the Prince of the Mujahedeen. The merge was considered by Al-Dhawahiri as a jihadist awakening in the Arabian Peninsula and was blessed by Mustafa Abu El Yazeed from the Major Commandos in Afghanistan in July 2009.


There are many definitions for Al-Qaeda, some descriptive concluded from its role and some substantive. Studies from the U.S. and different policy research centers connect Al-Qaeda with terrorism and consider them the same. The definitions state that terrorism existed before Al-Qaeda and that Al-Qaeda follows its methodology. All those studies define terrorism deliberate violence with political motivations.

The Strategic Studies and Research Foundation of the U.S. Defense Ministry defines the functional aspect of Al-Qaeda, dividing Muslims into four types: the fundamentalists, the traditionalists, the modernists and the secularists. The foundation considers Al-Qaeda as a fundamental movement refusing all western and democratic values, a movement that fights the West and the United States in specific and seeks to apply fascist kind of Islam.

Bruce Hoffman of Georgetown University, who provided the CIA with terrorism studies, describes Al-Qaeda in the following way: “Al Qaeda may have seventh-century ideas, but they have 21st-century acumen for communications.”

Osama Bin Laden, the head of Al-Qaeda, defines Al-Qaeda in the first statement announce on November 1998 as a global front that fights crusaders and Jews and seeks to apply Allah’s judgment on earth and liberate the vulnerable from injustice.

Abu Mus’ab Al-Zarqawi expanded this definition and said that it is a global front fighting Jews, crusaders and apostates. Al-Zarqawi added the last point as an essential condition to pledge allegiance to Osama Bin Laden as an “amir,” a leader in the organization.

Mustafa Abu El Yazeed says that Al-Qaeda is a group of Muslims who seek to apply Allah’s judgment and rules on earth and mobilize as many people as possible towards achieving this goal.

The former field commander of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula Abdulaziz Al-Muqren defines Al-Qaeda as a jihadist group, and an international development of jihad strategy, a starting point for establishing a brand new Islamic country, and a normal continuation of the historic concept of jihad in which many mistakes of previous Islamic movements are avoided.

The amir of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Nasser Abdulkareem Al-Wahaishi, also known as Abu Basir, told Al Jazeera in early 2009, that the organization of Al-Qaeda is at the forefront of the Islamic Nation, but don’t fight on behalf of it and that they seek to revive the concept of the Islamic Caliphate and empowering Allah’s religion. He said that they did not fight on behalf of Muslims because this is everyone’s case, but did this for Allah and the vulnerable. He said they had an administrative structure, a deputy, a consultative council, a media department, a legislative committee and a military committee.

Organizational structure

Al-Qaeda has a historical description for the Arabian Peninsula: that is from the right corner of the Kaaba in Mecca to the Arabian Sea crossing the official borders that separate its countries.

The consultative council has the most authority and is headed by Abu Basir and has non-Yemeni members headed by the deputy Amir Sa’eed Al-Shihri, also known as Abu Sufian Al-Azdi Al-Shihri, who was previously arrested and held in Guantanamo.

The organization’s media section includes a television editing unit and a print journalism section that publishes a bimonthly magazine called “Echoes of Epics” and works on marketing promotional works, official statements, research papers and studies issued by the other sections.

The military section has a specialized unit for military manufacturing. This unit creates highly developed military tools such as the bomb that targeted Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef and the one used in the bombing attempt at Detroit Airport on Christmas in December 2009.

The legislative committee held an intellectual forum to discuss the implications of targeting the U.S. Embassy in Sana’a in September 2008. The commission also issued a descriptive study for the current situation in Yemen from a legitimate point of view, the study was called “Revealing the democratic system and breaking the tyranny of Yemen.”

After the assassination attempt of Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef, the legislative committee sent out a message. Some wanted Saudis and Yemeni are members of the committee.

All the structural sections of the organization and its operations are well-known and publically announced but members’ names are confidential. Those high in the command are the “amir,” his deputy, the Military Officer and the Legitimate Officer while keeping the name of the media officer unknown as the other members.

Strategic vision

The writer of this report in early December had the chance to meet most of the leaders of the organization and interviewed its amir who fully described to him the structure, future goals and his relationship with other people outside the organization.

Al-Qaeda is concentrating on the Arabian Peninsula, also is the west and the U.S.

The Arabian Peninsula has become, according to Carter’s concept, within the U.S. national security and the heart of the new empire due to its geographic location, the size of its wealth and rich resources, its religious sacredness as the place where the Angel Gabriel revealed Allah’s messages to Prophet Mohammad and where Islam was first born, and it’s the qibla of all Muslims.

If all foreign existence was banished from the Arabian Peninsula, a major power in international policy would be eliminated and western dominance would vanish from the world, according to Al-Qaeda.

Al-Qaeda perceives the Arabian Peninsula, and as narrated by Abu Basir, amir of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, as an important key for liberating Palestine. He concluded this based on the fact that during the first decades of Islam and, before liberating Jerusalem, Muslims cleansed the Arabian Peninsula from all the infidels.

He also said that NATO and the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia are directed from land and sea military bases within the peninsula, and that the U.S., British and English troops in the Arab Peninsula are nothing but to protect the Jews in Palestine from the mujahedeen forces.

For this reason, from the Al-Qaeda’s leadership’s point of view, Yemen is an important strategic location and an essential pillar for its international program. Yemen, from an ideological perspective, is considered the land of Allah and a land from which, according to the Prophet Mohammad, 12,000 warriors would come to fight in the name of Allah.

Due to the country’s geography of mountains and valleys, deserts and coasts, and due to the nature of its population with its Bedouin and tribal nature are also favorable to the organization. Providing strangers with shelter and protection as well as carrying weapons are all characteristics that match the requirements of Al-Qaeda.

This is what explains the increase of the Yemeni soldiers’ existence at the forefronts of the different battles led by Al-Qaeda in different locations: in Nairobi and Dar Al-Salam in 1998, the attack of the USS Cole in 2000, 9/11, the war fronts of Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia, and Fath Al-Islam in Lebanon in 2007.

After Madrid Bombings in March 2004, Al-Qaeda announced that Yemen would be the third front following Afghanistan and Iraq where NATO forces, led by the U.S., are being depleted.

This is why Al-Qaeda is working internationally on establishing four major armies moving in from the outside to the heart of Palestine: one army force is led from the land of Khorasan (currently known as Pakistan and Afghanistan), the next is from Iraq, the third from Yemen, and the forth is from the Levant as called for by Osama Bin Laden during the war on Gaza in January 2009.

The ideology of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the local branch of the international organization, envisions an Islamic state through dismantling the current systems in the Arabian Peninsula.

Al-Qaeda is to establish an army from Yemen, as one of the four armies to manage the “epic battle in the Middle East” that gives its name to the media foundation of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Epics Foundation.

Through reading into the different operations of international jihadi operations methodology on top of which is Al-Qaeda, one can only find that Al-Qaeda builds its vision more based on the ideological religious standpoint than on other political or realistic ones. These criteria bring us closer to understanding Al-Qaeda locally and internationally.

This ideology serves fighting more than other propaganda or political goals, as is clear in the case of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

This is based on a special reading by them for the current situation describing it as an occupation. Fighting is prioritized due to the humiliation the Islamic nation in the different areas in the world.

In order to understand the fundamental vision of Al-Qaeda, we should read in the outlines of its unilateral explanations of the old scripts and explanations some of which date back more than 1,000 years.

At the same time however, Al-Qaeda is more modern, creative, and innovative in all the military and intelligence tools and techniques.

The latest innovation in penetration techniques led to a major change in security systems, when Omar Farouk Abdulmutalab tried to blow up a North West plane over Detroit Airport.

Continue to Part 2

Categories: AL Qaeda, SAU, USA, YEM