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2017 12-05 CTP Update and Assessment


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CTP’s Threat Update series is a weekly update and assessment of the al Qaeda network and its affiliates in Yemen, the Horn of Africa, and the Maghreb and Sahel.

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2017 12-05 CTP Update and Assessment

  1. 1. 1 Threat Update: December 5, 2017 For a closer look at Yemen this week, view the full Threat Update. Yemen The death of former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh will benefit U.S. adversaries in Yemen. Al Houthi forces killed Saleh after three days of intense fighting with Saleh loyalists in Yemen’s capital, Sana’a. The al Houthi movement will likely move further into Iran’s orbit following Saleh’s death. Al Qaeda will also benefit as instability from the subsequent power struggle reverberates throughout Yemen. Al Qaeda Network Al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri seeks to bring Syrian groups back under al Qaeda’s influence, rejecting a July 2016 split by al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate and calling for unity. Hayat Tahrir al Sham (HTS), the successor of Syrian al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al Nusra, arrested four pro- al Qaeda officials who criticized its 2016 split from al Qaeda. The arrests opened a public rift within HTS’s senior ranks, highlighting its members’ divided loyalties.
  2. 2. 2 Threat Update: December 5, 2017 Al Shabaab is attempting to disrupt troop movements and trade between Somali Federal Government (SFG)-controlled ports in southern Somalia. Al Shabaab militants attacked Ugandan African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali patrols in Lower Shabelle region six times in the past twelve days. The campaign may also be intended to deter Uganda from deploying additional troops to Somalia. Al Shabaab may sever SFG lines of communication if AMISOM forces begin to withdraw as scheduled by December 31, 2017. Somalia Libya Libyan factions are preparing to jockey for power after December 17, when the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) reaches the end of its official term. GNA officials secured reassurances from the U.S. government in a bid to preserve their faltering legitimacy. A rival political-military bloc in eastern Libya will likely press its advantage to cut a favorable deal with the GNA but could also mount a direct challenge to the GNA’s authority.
  3. 3. Yemen 3Randy Morton Al Houthi forces kill former president Ali Abdullah Saleh after partnership collapses 28 NOV: Saleh called on “decision makers” to stop firing ballistic missiles at Saudi Arabia. . 1 02 DEC: Saleh called for a “new page” with the Saudi-led coalition and for Yemenis to mobilize against the al Houthi movement. 02 DEC: The Saudi-led coalition and internationally recognized Yemeni government welcomed Saleh’s statement and pledged to support him. 5 29 NOV: Al Houthi forces attacked pro-Saleh forces in Sana’a at the Saleh Mosque. 3 28 NOV: Al Houthi movement leader Abdul Malik al Houthi accused Saleh of ignoring Yemen’s problems. 42 04 DEC: Al Houthi forces killed Saleh on the outskirts of Sana’a city as he fled the capital. 6
  4. 4. Al Qaeda Network 4Colin Neafsey Al Qaeda discredits Hayat Tahrir al Sham to pressure for reconciliation 27 NOV: HTS confirmed the arrests of shari’a official Dr. Sami al Oraidi and three other officials that support reconciliation between HTS and al Qaeda. 28 NOV: Al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri publicly rejected Jabhat al Nusra’s split from al Qaeda as a violation of bayat. 28 NOV: A group of HTS military and shari’a officials condemned the arrests and threatened to resign from HTS if the officials are not released. 32 1
  5. 5. Libya 5Emily Estelle Libyan elites prepare to grab power in upcoming legitimacy crisis and elections 01 DEC: U.S. President Donald Trump voiced support for the GNA after meeting with Prime Minister Fayez al Serraj. 28 NOV: LNA spokesman BG Ahmed al Mismari stated that the army will resolve the Libyan crisis if no agreement is reached within six months. 03 DEC: LNA commander Khalifa Haftar and HoR Speaker Ageela Salah held meetings in Cairo. 29 NOV: Saif al Islam, the son of deceased Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi, made his first public statement in seven years in a preliminary bid to rehabilitate his image. 1 4 3 2
  6. 6. Horn of Africa 6Matthew Cassidy Al Shabaab disrupts troop movements in Lower Shabelle 3 1 2 54 1. 22 NOV: Al Shabaab detonated an IED targeting a Ugandan AMISOM convoy near Bulo Marer. 2. 23 NOV: Al Shabaab ambushed Ugandan AMISOM forces in Golweyn. 3. 24 NOV: Al Shabaab detonated an IED targeting Ugandan AMISOM forces near Marka. 4. 26 NOV: Al Shabaab killed a SNA soldier in Qoryoley. 5. 28 NOV: Al Shabaab ambushed a Ugandan AMISOM patrol in Qoryoley. 6. 04 DEC: Al Shabaab attacked a Ugandan AMISOM base in Mashalay. 6
  7. 7. Acronym List AMISOM: African Union Mission in Somalia AQAP: al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula AQIM: al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb AQIS: al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent BDB: Benghazi Defense Brigades BRSC: Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council CJA: Congress for Justice in Azawad CMA: Coordination for the Movement of the Azawad GATIA: Imghad Tuareg and Allies Self-Defense Group ISIS: Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham JNIM: Jama’a Nusrat al Islam wa al Muslimeen GNA: Libyan Government of National Accord LNA: Libyan National Army MAA: Arab Movement of Azawad MINUSMA: United National Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali MNLA: National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad MSCD: Mujahideen Shura Council in Derna MUJAO: The Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa SNA: Somalia National Army TTP: Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan 7
  8. 8. For more information about AEI’s Critical Threats Project, visit Contact us at or (202) 888-6575. Frederick W. Kagan Director Critical Threats Project Team Katherine Zimmerman Research Manager Caroline Goodson Program Assistant al Qaeda Analysts Emily Estelle Maher Farrukh Iran Analysts Marie Donovan Mike Saidi 8