Al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)

  • Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is an Islamic extremist organization based in Yemen. It is al-Qa’ida’s most active global affiliate.
     
  • In 2009, 2010, and 2012, AQAP plotted to blow up airliners over the United States. The chief architect of these plans, bombmaker Ibrahim al-Asiri, remains in Yemen. Asiri has trained other AQAP operatives to build new non-metallic explosives that can evade airport security detection.
     
  • The deaths of AQAP leader Nasir al-Wahishi and other top leaders have not affected AQAP’s operational tempo. Its new chief, Qasim al-Rimi, continues to direct attacks against the Iran-backed Shia Huthis, and AQAP has acquired new weaponry and support from sympathetic Sunni tribes across Yemen.

THREAT TO NEW JERSEY: MODERATE

AQAP has demonstrated the intent and capability to act outside its primary area of operations in Yemen and has attempted to strike the United States on three occasions since 2009. AQAP continues to hone media outreach efforts and propaganda through its online English-language magazine, Inspire, publishing the 15th edition this month, which encouraged lone offender and knife attacks and the assassinations of US businessmen.

  • In April 2015, federal authorities arrested Noelle Velentzas and Asia Siddiqui in New York City for planning to conduct attacks using improvised explosive devices. Velentzas had contact with AQAP members, who encouraged the women to build bombs similar to those used in the Boston Marathon attack in 2013.
     
  • In January 2015, AQAP claimed responsibility for the attack on the Charlie Hebdo satirical newspaper in Paris, killing 12 and wounding 11. Both attackers, Sa’id and Charif Kouachi, received training in Yemen.

NEW JERSEY NEXUS

AQAP continues to inspire Homegrown Violent Extremists (HVEs) with their propaganda, including the online English-language magazine, Inspire, which encourages violent extremism and individuals to conduct terrorist attacks in the United States. 

Messaging from deceased AQAP leader Anwar al-Aulaqi  continues to resonate with young jihadists. In May 2015, one of the Garland, Texas shooters used a photo of Aulaqi on his Twitter profile while the other gave his mother CDs of his lectures. 

In December 2015, Sharif Mobley, a suspected al-Qa’ida member and former resident of Buena (Atlantic County), was sentenced in Yemen to 10 years in prison for killing a guard while trying to escape from a hospital. Yemini officials arrested Mobley in 2010 on suspicion of being an AQAP member.

Intelligence Gaps

  • How many AQAP sympathizers are in New Jersey?
     
  • What fundraising tactics are being used by supporters in New Jersey to benefit AQAP?

NEW INSPIRE CALLS FOR TARGETED ASSASSINATIONS

AQAP Inspire Issue 15.png

On Saturday, al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released the 15th edition of its English-language magazine Inspire, focusing on the “professional assassination” of government and business leaders in the United States and lone offender attacks. There are no references to New Jersey or New Jersey-based individuals or businesses. The magazine does mention high-profile figures such as US President Obama and CIA Director Brennan, as well as US businessmen Bill Gates and David Koch.

  • Inspire 15 focuses on home assassinations, rather than encouraging workplace attacks as it has done previously, specifically calling on jihadists to damage the American economy by killing business leaders and entrepreneurs in their homes, which are perceived to have less security than places of business. A particular focus is the theme of “lone jihad” using parcel bombs, magnetic car bombs, and door-trap bombs.

  • A photo collage depicts Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and businessman David Koch with a pistol and spattered blood. Gates and Koch were mentioned in previous editions of Inspire. The collage notes upcoming US holidays, including Memorial Day (May 30) and Independence Day (July 4) with the word “cofirmed [sic],” followed by redacted lines, and the statement, “*please burn after reading.”

  • The magazine also urges followers to emulate the Palestinian street-killing of Jews by stabbing Americans in public, a tactic used in Israel over the last few months.

  • This release comes a month after a Twitter user posted a 52-page Arabic-language booklet titled “Creative Innovations to Target Americans” and a week after several audio messages by al-Qa’ida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri and Hamza Bin Ladin—son of Usama Bin Ladin—encouraging attacks on the West



For more information, please contact NJOHSP's Analysis Bureau at analysis@njohsp.gov or 609-584-4000.