Al Qaeda’s leader in Yemen under arrest, UN report reveals

According to the UN, the leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Khalid Batarfi, was detained and his second, Saad Atef al Awlaqi, passed away throughout an “operation in Ghayda City, Al-Mahrah Governorate, in October.”

This is the very first time Batarfi’s arrest has actually been formally verified. The UN supplied no more information about the operation or on Batarfi’s present location. In early October, the WEBSITE Intelligence Group accentuated “unconfirmed reports” suggesting Batarfi had actually been detained by Yemeni security forces in the Mahra Governorate and after that turned over to Saudi Arabia.

Batarfi ended up being the leader of AQAP in early 2020 after his predecessor was eliminated in a US airstrike. Batarfi, who remains in his early 40s, is from a Yemeni household however was born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He trained with al Qaeda in Afghanistan prior to 9/11 and later on signed up with al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen. Batarfi ended up being an essential ideologue for the group and, according to the UN, assisted manage its external operations prior to he ended up being leader.

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The reality that Batarfi permitted himself to be caught alive throughout the raid instead of protecting “martyrdom” like Osama bin Laden will be a significant humiliation to al Qaeda. In his inaugural address as AQAP leader last March, Batarfi mentioned that “as per our methodology, the martyrdom of leaders is proof of its truthfulness, and it is a badge of honor adorned by these leaders,” according to a translation by the WEBSITE Intelligence Group.

Offered Batarfi was the “emir” of among al Qaeda’s crucial local affiliates, there has actually perhaps not been a more senior al Qaeda leader caught alive considering that bin Laden established the group more than thirty years earlier. Regardless of putting out declarations on other matters in current months, AQAP has actually not acknowledged Batarfi’s arrest.

The loss of Batarfi is the current in a string of problems for AQAP. In February 2020, the United States federal government revealed that Batarfi’s predecessor Qassim al-Rimi had actually been eliminated in an airstrike in Yemen. That followed a lethal shooting attack in December 2019 at Naval Air Station Pensacola by a Saudi flying force officer who was collaborating with AQAP, according to the United States Justice department.

“In addition to leadership losses, AQAP is suffering an erosion of its ranks caused by dissentions and desertions,” and was required to distribute from Bayda Governorate after a substantial military defeat, the UN report specifies.

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It states that the international al Qaeda network “faces a new and pressing challenge concerning its leadership and strategic direction, following an exceptional period of attrition of its senior leaders” in Afghanistan, Mali, Somalia, Yemen and Syria’s Idlib province.

The report mentioned that no member state had actually had the ability to validate reports of the death from natural reasons for al Qaeda’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in October. Last month the United States federal government openly verified reports that his deputy Abu Muhammad al-Masri had actually been eliminated in Iran in August.

The UN report recommends the most likely next in line to take over from al-Zawahiri is Saif al-Adel, a veteran Egyptian al Qaeda operative who like al-Masri is thought to have long lived in Iran.

The report states: “Should a succession to al-Zawahiri become necessary, it may be difficult for the new leader to take up residence in Afghanistan, as such a move could have an impact on the interests of the Taliban, given their peace process obligations. Al-Qaida is expected by Member States to overcome these challenges, but it is not clear whether it will ultimately emerge stronger, under a more dynamic leadership, or indeed where its leaders will ultimately find a safe haven from which to operate.”

A prospective future rise in ISIS horror attacks

In its extensive evaluation of the international jihadist danger, the UN report cautions that as coronavirus constraints are alleviated, “a rash of pre-planned attacks may occur” since ISIS is figured out to make international news headings when again.

The UN report keeps in mind that ISIS has actually taken pleasure in a “captive audience” amongst Islamist extremists caged inside and investing more time online throughout the pandemic, possibly developing a built up danger.

In Between September and November in 2015, jihadis performed a wave of horror attacks in France, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, highlighting the withstanding danger to Europe. A few of the opponents might have been encouraged to act prior to it ended up being harder to target individuals gathering together in public.

A fatal terrorist stabbing attack in a church in Nice, France, in late October and a lethal marauding weapon attack in the center of Vienna, Austria, in early November were performed simply hours prior to across the country coronavirus lockdowns was because of enter into impact in France and Austria.

According to the report, one jihadi network in Europe triggering issue is the so-called ” ‘Lions of the Balkans’, an international network composed of elements based in at least Austria, Germany, Switzerland and western Balkan countries.”

According to the UN, both the Vienna enemy and among those detained in connection with an ISIS plot to attack United States and NATO military bases in Germany prevented by German authorities last April were connected to this network, as were 3 jihadis detained in September in North Macedonia “detected to be involved in the final planning stage of a terrorist attack.”

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The report cautions that “[t]he economic and political toll of the pandemic, its aggravation of underlying drivers of violent extremism and its expected impact on counter-terrorism efforts are likely to increase the long-term [jihadist terror] threat everywhere.”

The UN keeps track of examined that “[i]n conflict zones, where restrictions on movement and gatherings are difficult or impossible to enforce, and where foreign terrorist fighters have continued to travel freely, threat levels have increased,” with the pandemic weakening “the hand of governments in conflict zones more than it has inhibited terrorist groups.” The report cautioned that the pandemic’s “long-term impact on economies, government resources and allocations for international cooperation risks aggravating the threat further.”

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According to the report, an approximated 10,000 ISIS fighters continue to wage a “sustained insurgency”in Syria and Iraq. The report states that although most of these fighters are reported to be in Iraq, pressure by Iraqi security forces is making the nation harder for [ISIS] operations in contrast with” Syria.

Outside the former “caliphate,” the UN report singles out ISIS’s seizure of significant territory along the northern Mozambique coastline and its projection of violence into Tanzania as of great concern. According to the report, ISIS fighters still hold the Mozambique port of Mocimboa da Praia, “in spite of a continual military offensive from federal government forces.”

The report presents evidence of ISIS cooperating throughout the wider region, with some member states observing “operatives in Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of the Congo had actually gotten support of fitness instructors, tactical strategists and financial backing remitted from the [ISIS] core through [ISIS] networks and enablers in Somalia and other East African nations.”

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.