Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula
The interception of two explosive devices shipped from Yemen comes as U.S.-trained Yemeni special forces have intensified their hunt for leaders of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, including Anwar Awlaki, the radical American-born Muslim cleric targeted for assassination by the Obama administration.
Al Qaeda’s Yemeni branch was allegedly behind the failed Christmas Day bombing of a U.S. airliner and the attempted assassination of a Saudi prince. U.S. investigators also believe that Awlaki was the inspiration for the attack at Ft. Hood, Texas, last year in which Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan is charged with killing 13 and wounding 32.
The group has shown that it can launch terrorist strikes in Yemen despite increased pressure from that country’s special forces. There are indications that the group has ties to Shabab, the Al Qaeda-connected militants battling for an Islamic state in war-torn Somalia. A senior U.S. official said this year that the two groups have had “interactions” and that there’s somewhat of a “blending together” of their leaders.