Al-Quaeda in Yemen and the response of the west

Following attempts at the weekend by al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), to plant bombs on cargo planes and airliners bound to the US, a briefing paper has been published on the organisation’s aims by counter-extremism think tank the Quilliam Foundation.

The authors of the paper Noman Benotman and James Brandon discuss local efforts to tackle Islamist militancy within Yemen and suggest ways that western government can tackle jihadist threats arising from what is one of the world’s poorest countries.

They argue that:

Western governments should acknowledge that, for all its faults, the Yemeni government is best placed to deal with the problem of extremism and terrorism in its own country. At the same time, however, the Yemeni government can and should do more to tackle the ideological roots extremism within its borders.

Unilateral western military action (such as indiscriminate, or even discriminate, drone strikes) may undermine moderate forces in the Yemeni government and make key local Yemenis (such as police forces, tribal elders, religious institutions and political parties) less willing to tackle al-Qaeda themselves.

James Brandon,
head of research at Quilliam and a former journalist who has lived in Yemen will be joining  journalist and Yemen specialist Abdallah Homouda and Ginny Hill, a journalist and Yemen expert who runs the Yemen Forum at Chatham House to discuss al-Quaeda in Yemen and western government’s response.

Noman Benotman, co-author of the report will also be taking part in the discussion. senior analyst at Quilliam. A previous leader of the jihadist Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) and associate of senior al-Quaeda leaders in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sudan, he published an open letter to his former colleague Osama bin Laden calling on him to abandon violence in September this year.