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More assassinations: (Updated)

The news is still coming in about today’s ambush in Yemen, which left at least three security officials dead with some reports claiming 7 dead.

Both Mareb Press and News Yemen are reporting that Ahmad (or Ali) Salim al-‘Amari, the director of security in Hadramawt (the first names differ in the two reports) and Ahmad BaWazir, the director of security in Sa’yyun, were killed in the ambush.

Al-Tagheer also weighs in here and reports the name of the assassinated director of security as Ahmad Salim al-‘Amari.

Much of this confused reporting and the details will be cleared up in the coming days, and Waq al-waq will attempt to keep on top of the story as much as my schedule allows, but the important point and the one most will be speculating on is touched on in this Reuters report.

Namely, is al-Qaeda responsible? The last issue of Sada al-Malahim spent a lot of time talking about more assassinations to come and, unfortunately, this is an area that al-Qaeda can have some success. It allows them to minimize civilian causalities, which the current leaders of the organization learned was important from their disastrous campaign in Saudi Arabia in 2003 and 2004. Such a campaign, if this is the beginning, would also do much to alleviate any pressure on al-Qaeda from any joint Yemeni-Saudi campaigns against the group.

My impression is that AQAP is also frustrated at the moment after the last attack they planned in Saudi – or what I believe was an attack in the making – was disrupted before it could be launched.

Update: Someone asked me to write up a short analysis of the attack and I thought I would share it here as well:

Today’s ambush and assassinations in Yemen have all the hallmarks of an al-Qaeda attack. The organization has targeted Yemeni security officials previously, assassinating investigators in both 2007 and 2008. Lately, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has expressed a desire to carry out more targeted strikes.

The most recent issue of the organization’s bi-monthly journal, Sada al-Malahim (The Echo of Battles), spent a great deal of space discussing the failed assassination attempt of Saudi Arabia’s top counter-terrorism official, Muhammad bin Nayif, suggesting that similar attacks were the wave of the future.

By targeting individual security officials, al-Qaeda accomplishes two things. First, it minimizes Muslim civilian causalities, which helped to spark such a disastrous public backlash to previous al-Qaeda campaigns in the Arabian Peninsula. And second, it serves as a warning to those in the security services not to target al-Qaeda operatives directly for fear of assassination.


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