The reported takeover of the southern Yemeni town of Zinjibar by armed forces
loyal to al-Qaida is a disturbing reminder of the opportunity failed states
represent for the global jihadi movement.
Since being formed in the late
1980s in Afghanistan, al- Qaida’s unswerving goal has been to gain sovereignty,
and to form a pan-Islamic radical state that would sweep away all current
Arab-Muslim and Asian-Muslim regimes. Al- Qaida ideologues have named this
vision “the Caliphate.”
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The current wave of unrest sweeping the Arab
world is seen by jihadi forces as a pristine opportunity in which they can
exploit a breakdown in central governments, as has occurred in Yemen, to make
Nowhere is this more apparent than in Yemen, where the
most active branch of the terror movement, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, is
The Yemeni al-Qaida branch’s most notorious member is Anwar
al-Awlaki, a prominent Yemeni-American jihadi ideologue, who became a symbol of
the post-bin Laden al-Qaida network even before American Navy SEALs killed Osama
Bin Laden in Pakistan earlier this month.
On May 5, the US tried to kill
Awlaki in a drone strike in Yemen, but reportedly did not succeed.
Since fleeing the US for the ungoverned regions of Yemen, Awlaki has released
well-made online propaganda in English, which is aimed at gaining recruits from
among Muslims living in the West.
He has also been been linked to at
least three al- Qaida plots: The failed 2009 Christmas bombing attempt to blow
up an airliner over Detroit, the 2009 Fort Hood mass shooting in Texas, and the
2010 cargo flight explosives plot.
Should al-Qaida-affiliated forces
consolidate their control over Zinjibar and other areas of Yemen, the area will
certainly be used to plot more international terrorism plots.
forces have also marked Pakistan and Somalia as focal points where they hope to
plant the seed for a caliphate, and continued to launch systematic terrorist
attacks in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Such efforts will only be permanently
defeated when stable governments with popular local backing can be formed in
these areas.The writer's recently published book,
Virtual Caliphate: Exposing the Islamist on the Internet, deals with al-Qaida's presence on the internet.