More Primers on AQAP

As al Qaida Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) continues to dominate the news, more news organizations are coming out with primers. Here's one from The New Republic.

A major point that needs to be made more is that this is an off-shoot of the central al Qaida associated with Osama bin Laden.

AQAP represents what many consider Yemen's second generation of Al Qaeda--and while the group may have ties to "Al Qaeda central," the organization appears to act independently. Counterterrorism officials believe AQAP has learned from its recent past and built an organization that can withstand the loss of its leadership. Savvy in delivering its message, the group even has its own magazine, Salah al Malahim (The Echo of Battle), which covers everything from biographies of suicide bombers to advice columns on how to become an Al Qaeda foot soldier.


The BBC primer is here. Al Jazeera's is here.

Marc Lynch has a new article up on why an overly miltiaristic approach to AQAP in Yemen is likely to fail.

Also good reading: On the Knife's Edge: Yemen's Instability and the Threat to American Interests, by Andrew M. Exum, Richard Fontaine at Center for a New American Security.

By committing to a comprehensive engagement plan, the authors argue that the United States can deny al-Qaeda a sanctuary, prevent regional instability, and secure vital U.S. interests. This will require a whole-of-government approach including economic incentives, diplomatic pressure, military assistance, and efforts to encourage political reconciliation. The United States should also engage its regional partners in a dialogue which will benefit both Yemen and its neighbors and work to remove Yemen from the knife's edge.

A good reporter to follow is Michelle Shepherd of the Toronto Star. Here's her latest. She also had this long article in September on Yemen and the return of the Guantanamo detainees.

For blogs, I recommend Gregory Johnson and Brian O'Neill at Waq al-Waq and The Majlis, not only for their viewpoint, but because they are younger and since the authors speak Arabic, they often provide translations of things we wouldn't otherwise be able to read.

Things I stay away from: Anything by Evan Kohlman, the Government's expert witness in terror cases, a self-proclaimed secondary source expert -- and any news articles that cite him as a source. I've written about him before as having been deemed "the Doogie Howser of Terrorism." Here's a portion of one of his depositions in a case in which the defense was seeking to disqualify him. As another defense lawyer said of him:

"If the judge cares about being fair, he'll knock him out because he doesn't know anything. He reads the Internet ... repackages it and claims he's an expert," said Marvin Miller, a Virginia attorney who cross-examined Kohlmann while defending a man on terrorism charges. "He gives an argument to scare the jury about terror and fear."

I also like the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the articles by Christopher Boucek. His article on the Saudi list of 85 most wanted militants is published in this issue of The Sentinel, at page 7. All of the Sentinel articles on Yemen are worth reading, you just have to scroll through the table of contents for each issue.

If you have other sites to recommend, that don't reflect the right wing view that favors a fear-inducing, counter-terrorism concentric or predominantly militaristic repsonse, please add them in comments.

Update: I forgot to include this very significant report on the Yemen detainees at Guantanamo by Human Rights Watch. The appendix has the Yemen plan for repatriation.

This 52-page report criticizes US and Yemeni proposals to transfer the detainees to a detention center in Yemen where they could continue to be held indefinitely, ostensibly for rehabilitation. Based on two weeks of field research in Yemen and more than three dozen interviews, including with former Yemeni prisoners and US and Yemeni officials, the report also warns of the potential for mistreatment in other plans being considered for the detainees.
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