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- Last Updated: January 15, 2014
In light of the discovery of packages originating from Yemen containing explosive materials, and those packages being attributed to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, SITE Intelligence Group has prepared a brief on examples of AQAP’s recent threats to the US and its interests. Since its establishment, AQAP has demonstrated its determination to launch strikes abroad, specifically in its deployment of Umar al-Farouk Abdulmuttalab to carry out a suicide bombing on a US-bound passenger plane, and to use innovative methods.
Each audio and video production, magazine, and communiqué from the group vilifies the US for its alleged participation in air strikes in Yemen and its role in subjugating Muslims and plundering their resources, and threatens retaliation by land, sea and air.
The most recent example of these threats is a declaration made by AQAP military commander Abu Hureira al-Sana’ani (AKA Qasm al-Rimi) in an audio released on October 11, 2010. In that speech, Abu Hureira declared that AQAP has men doing work “internationally” and that soon Muslims will “hear news that will heal their chests from the pain caused by the enemy.” He said: “I swear to Allah, we will not experience war in our countries while our enemies are safe in their countries. No, by the Lord of the Ka’aba, we must become equal.” Sana’ani is one of 23 men who escaped from Political Security prison in Sana’a in February 2006, and appeared alongside AQAP leader Abu Baseer al-Wuhayshi and deputy leader Abu Sufyan al-Azdi in a video announcing AQAP’s establishment. Sana’ani is also one of the plotters behind the August 2009 assassination attempt on Saudi Deputy Interior Minister Muhammad bin Nayef.
Another example of a notable threat came in the introduction to the second issue of AQAP’s English-language magazine “Inspire,” in which the editors wrote: “While the fighting in Lawdar was raging, the CIA issued its assessment of the al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The CIA is now claiming that the AQAP is the most dangerous of the al Qaeda branches. We say this is just the beginning. You haven’t seen anything yet.”
Also, in the AQAP video production, “America and the Great Trap,” released on May 26, 2010, Fahd al-Quso al-Awlaki, a suspect in the 2000 US Cole Bombing, said that fighting the Americans is legitimate and that they are to be fought wherever they are found. He added: “In fact, we will take the battle to the heart of their homes and preempt their attacks with ours and kill their soldiers in their secure bases the same way the mujahid hero Umar al-Farouk did. We have much to do and our attempts shall continue. Our women and children will not be killed while yours remain safe and sound. The equation is clear and understandable: ‘You will be killed just as you kill, and you will be fired upon just as you fire upon us.’ The bill is very long and the reward shall be of the same nature as the deed.”
The concept of a “bill” to be repaid was echoed by radical Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in his interview with AQAP’s media arm, al-Malahem Foundation. In that interview, released on May 22, 2010, Awlaki said: “The bill between us and America contains no less than a million women and children, and we did not mention the men. The bill between us and America, as far as it concerns women and children only, has reached over a million [persons]. Those who could have been killed in that plane [the Delta airline] are a drop in the sea and we should treat them the same way they treat us and attack them the very same way they attack us.”
Awlaki also justified attacks on American civilians, explaining in the interview that the American people have participated in the alleged war on Muslims through the electoral process. He said: “When it comes to the American people as a whole, they are participants, as they voted for this administration. Also, they are the people who are financing this war.”
Further, another example came in the twelfth issue of AQAP’s Arabic magazine, “Echo of the Epics” (Sada al-Malahem), which was released on February 14, 2010. Abu Hureira al-Sana’ai authored an article that in part threatened the US and warned that its attacks in Yemen will cause AQAP to react. He wrote: “Today, you have attacked us in the midst of our household, so wait for what will attack you in the midst of yours. We shall come to you between your own hands and from behind you and against your beliefs and against your merits. We will blow up the earth below your feet.”