Al Qaeda’s chief in Yemen below arrest, UN report reveals

Based on the UN, the chief of al Qaeda within the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Khalid Batarfi, was arrested and his quantity two, Saad Atef al Awlaqi, died throughout an “operation in Ghayda Metropolis, Al-Mahrah Governorate, in October.”

That is the primary time Batarfi’s arrest has been formally confirmed. The UN supplied no additional particulars in regards to the operation or on Batarfi’s present whereabouts. In early October, the SITE Intelligence Group drew consideration to “unconfirmed stories” indicating Batarfi had been arrested by Yemeni safety forces within the Mahra Governorate after which handed over to Saudi Arabia.

Batarfi turned the chief of AQAP in early 2020 after his predecessor was killed in a US airstrike. Batarfi, who’s in his early 40s, is from a Yemeni household however was born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He skilled with al Qaeda in Afghanistan earlier than 9/11 and later joined al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen. Batarfi turned a key ideologue for the group and, in line with the UN, helped oversee its exterior operations earlier than he turned chief.

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The truth that Batarfi allowed himself to be captured alive in the course of the raid somewhat than securing “martyrdom” like Osama bin Laden might be a serious embarrassment to al Qaeda. In his inaugural tackle as AQAP chief final March, Batarfi acknowledged that “as per our methodology, the martyrdom of leaders is proof of its truthfulness, and it’s a badge of honor adorned by these leaders,” in line with a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group.

Given Batarfi was the “emir” of certainly one of al Qaeda’s key regional associates, there has arguably not been a extra senior al Qaeda chief captured alive since bin Laden based the group greater than 30 years in the past. Regardless of placing out statements on different issues in latest months, AQAP has not acknowledged Batarfi’s arrest.

The lack of Batarfi is the most recent in a string of setbacks for AQAP. In February 2020, the US authorities introduced that Batarfi’s predecessor Qassim al-Rimi had been killed in an airstrike in Yemen. That adopted a lethal capturing assault in December 2019 at Naval Air Station Pensacola by a Saudi air power officer who was coordinating with AQAP, in line with the US Justice division.

“Along with management losses, AQAP is struggling an erosion of its ranks attributable to dissentions and desertions,” and was compelled to disperse from Bayda Governorate after a big army defeat, the UN report states.

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It states that the worldwide al Qaeda community “faces a brand new and urgent problem regarding its management and strategic path, following an distinctive interval of attrition of its senior leaders” in Afghanistan, Mali, Somalia, Yemen and Syria’s Idlib province.

The report acknowledged that no member state had been in a position to verify stories of the loss of life from pure causes of al Qaeda’s chief Ayman al-Zawahiri in October. Final month the US authorities publicly confirmed stories that his deputy Abu Muhammad al-Masri had been killed in Iran in August.

The UN report suggests the seemingly subsequent in line to take over from al-Zawahiri is Saif al-Adel, a veteran Egyptian al Qaeda operative who like al-Masri is believed to have lengthy resided in Iran.

The report states: “Ought to a succession to al-Zawahiri turn out to be mandatory, it might be tough for the brand new chief to take up residence in Afghanistan, as such a transfer may have an effect on the pursuits of the Taliban, given their peace course of obligations. Al-Qaida is anticipated by Member States to beat these challenges, however it’s not clear whether or not it is going to in the end emerge stronger, below a extra dynamic management, or certainly the place its leaders will in the end discover a secure haven from which to function.”

A possible future surge in ISIS terror assaults

In its wide-ranging evaluation of the worldwide jihadist risk, the UN report warns that as coronavirus restrictions are eased, “a rash of pre-planned assaults could happen” as a result of ISIS is set to make international information headlines as soon as once more.

The UN report notes that ISIS has loved a “captive viewers” amongst Islamist extremists cooped up indoors and spending extra time on-line in the course of the pandemic, doubtlessly creating an gathered risk.

Between September and November final 12 months, jihadis carried out a spate of terror assaults in France, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, underlining the enduring risk to Europe. Among the attackers could have been motivated to behave earlier than it turned harder to focus on folks congregating in public.

A lethal terrorist stabbing assault in a church in Good, France, in late October and a lethal marauding gun assault within the heart of Vienna, Austria, in early November had been carried out simply hours earlier than nationwide coronavirus lockdowns had been due to enter impact in France and Austria.

Based on the report, one jihadi community in Europe inflicting concern is the so-called ” ‘Lions of the Balkans’, a world community composed of components primarily based in a minimum of Austria, Germany, Switzerland and western Balkan nations.”

Based on the UN, each the Vienna attacker and a type of arrested in reference to an ISIS plot to assault US and NATO army bases in Germany thwarted by German police final April had been linked to this community, as had been three jihadis arrested in September in North Macedonia “detected to be concerned within the remaining starting stage of a terrorist assault.”

A darkening international risk image

The report warns that “[t]he financial and political toll of the pandemic, its aggravation of underlying drivers of violent extremism and its anticipated affect on counter-terrorism efforts are prone to enhance the long-term [jihadist terror] risk in every single place.”

The UN screens assessed that “[i]n battle zones, the place restrictions on motion and gatherings are tough or inconceivable to implement, and the place international terrorist fighters have continued to journey freely, risk ranges have elevated,” with the pandemic weakening “the hand of governments in battle zones greater than it has inhibited terrorist teams.” The report warned that the pandemic’s “long-term affect on economies, authorities sources and allocations for worldwide cooperation dangers aggravating the risk additional.”

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Based on the report, an estimated 10,000 ISIS fighters proceed to wage a “sustained insurgency”in Syria and Iraq. The report says that though the vast majority of these fighters are reported to be in Iraq, strain by Iraqi safety forces is making the nation harder for [ISIS] operations as compared with” Syria.

Exterior the previous “caliphate,” the UN report singles out ISIS’s seizure of serious territory alongside the northern Mozambique shoreline and its projection of violence into Tanzania as of nice concern. Based on the report, ISIS fighters nonetheless maintain the Mozambique port of Mocimboa da Praia, “regardless of a sustained army offensive from authorities forces.”

The report presents proof of ISIS cooperating all through the broader area, with some member states observing “operatives in Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of the Congo had acquired reinforcement of trainers, tactical strategists and monetary assist remitted from the [ISIS] core by way of [ISIS] networks and enablers in Somalia and different East African nations.”

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