In August 2013, the US State Department temporarily closed several embassies in response to a threat associated with AQAP. The State Department announced that it was closing 21 embassies in north Africa and the Middle East, amid fears Al Qaeda was planning a major terrorist attack. US media outlets reported that specific conversations between the two senior figures in Al Qaeda revealed one of the most serious plots against American and Western interests since the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US. The New York Times reported that conversations between Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri and the organisation's head in Yemen, Nasser al-Wuhayshi, had been intercepted.
Rewards are offered for Nasir al-Wahishi, AQAP’s top leader, responsible for approving AQAP targets, recruiting new members, allocating resources and directing attacks. In 2013, Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri named him as his deputy. Shawki Ali Ahmed Al-Badani is an AQAP leader and operative. He played a key role planning a major attack that led the United States to close more than 20 diplomatic posts in the Middle East and Africa in the summer of 2013. Jalal Bala’idi is an AQAP regional emir involved in 2013 with planning bomb attacks on various Western diplomatic facilities and personnel. Others being sought are Ibrahim al-Rubaysh, a senior AQAP Sharia official and advisor who provides the justification for the group’s attacks; Ibrahim al-Banna, the group’s chief of security; and c, who has helped raise funds and stockpile weapons.
An indictment was unsealed August 27, 2013 in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, charging a Nigerian citizen with providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and using high-powered firearms in furtherance of that crime. The United States is currently seeking the extradition of the defendant, Lawal Olaniyi Babafemi, also known as “Abdullah” and “Ayatollah Mustapha,” from Nigeria.
According to court documents, between approximately January 2010 and August 2011, the defendant traveled twice from Nigeria to Yemen to meet and train with leaders of AQAP, the Yemen-based branch of al Qaeda. Babafemi assisted in AQAP’s English-language media operations, which include the publication of the magazine “Inspire.” At the direction of the now-deceased senior AQAP commander Anwar al-Aulaqi, Babafemi was provided by AQAP leadership with the equivalent of almost $9,000 in cash to recruit other English-speakers from Nigeria to join that group. While in Yemen, Babafemi also received weapons training from AQAP.
The U.S. Department of Treasury on 18 Decembe 2013 imposed sanctions on two al-Qa'ida supporters based in Qatar and Yemen. Abd al-Rahman bin 'Umayr al-Nu'aymi (Nu'aymi) and `Abd al-Wahhab Muhammad `Abd al-Rahman al-Humayqani (Humayqani) were named as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224. Nu'aymi was designated for providing financial support to al-Qa'ida, Asbat al-Ansar, al-Qa'ida in Iraq, and al-Shabaab, and Humayqani was designated for providing financial support to and acting on behalf of al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
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