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Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula

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The Nigerian student who tried to blow up a Northwest Airlines airplane on December 25th claimed affiliation with an organization called, “Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.” Most of the news reports I’ve seen discussed this entity as if it were something new. Like many things in Arabia, the truth is more subtle.

The first time the world saw “Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula” was in May, 2004 when Abdulazziz Al-Muqrin conducted several attacks in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. On June 18, 2004, an American named Paul Johnson was beheaded. Shortly thereafter, Saudi security forces captured Al-Muqrin. Over the next several years, Saudi security forces engaged Al-Qaeda from time to time.

The United States has almost always dealt with Al-Qaeda as if it were a hierarchical command and control organization, albeit a terrorist one (I note in passing that the term “terrorist” refers only to the typical tactics of asymmetrical warfare and is otherwise meaningless). Al-Qaeda literally means “the base” but “base” here is in the sense of “database”: originally this was the list of fighters (we called them then, “freedom fighters” and compared them to the American founding fathers)who were fighting the Soviet Union occupation of Afghanistan. Other than encouraging those who would fight for Al-Qaeda’s ideas, it never seemed to me that organizations like Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Al-Qaeda in Iraq, or the other “Al-Qaeda’s” were taking orders from Osama bin Laden. It’s interesting that the Yemeni organization is not called, “Al-Qaeda in Yemen.” This suggests that the Yemeni members, at least, are less than nationalistic, to say the least. Is their goal the restoration of the caliphate? Or is the group a successor to Al-Muqrin, whose focus and goal is not Yemen at all, but bin Laden’s goal, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia itself?

Written by mokane

January 1, 2010 at 2:07 am

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. “but bin Laden’s goal, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia itself?”
    I think you’re right with this, Osama will take revange against the kingdom


    January 10, 2010 at 11:05 am

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