Yemen's al-Qaida wing declaring plans in July 2014 to establish an Islamic emirate in the remote eastern Hadramout province. Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula's (AQAP) announcement also ordered men and women in the east to obey its strict interpretation of Islamic law. The terrorist group issued leaflets with the orders and its intent to create an Islamic state. The announcement came weeks after the al-Qaida offshoot called the Islamic State and the Levant (ISIL) declared its own caliphate across parts of Syria and Iraq.
In 2014, AQAP claimed responsibility for over 150 attacks in Yemen, using tactics such as IEDs, suicide bombings, and small-arms attacks. The group aggressively targeted both Houthis and Yemeni military and government institutions, including military bases, the Presidential palace in Sana’a, military checkpoints and vehicles, and the police academy in Sana’a. Over 75 Yemeni government or military personnel were killed in these attacks.
AQAP militants carried out hundreds of attacks throughout Yemen in 2014. Methods included suicide bombers, vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs), ambushes, kidnappings, and targeted assassinations. The following list details only a small fraction of the incidents that occurred:
- On January 16, AQAP launched simultaneous attacks on three military installations, including a checkpoint and a military camp, near the Rada district in al-Baydha Governorate. The coordinated assault, which included an attempted suicide bombing, killed at least six Yemeni soldiers, five militants, and wounded a number of others.
- On February 14, AQAP militants conducted a complex attack targeting the Sana’a Central Prison, facilitating the escape of 29 prisoners, including 19 AQAP operatives. A VBIED exploded outside the gate and was followed by a gun battle between security guards and the militants. Yemeni authorities report at least seven guards and three militants were killed in the fighting.
- On April 15, suspected AQAP militants assassinated the deputy governor of al-Baydha Governorate, Hussein Dayyan, near his home, fleeing the scene on motorcycles.
- On April 29, AQAP militants ambushed a Yemeni military convoy in Shabwah Governorate using machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. At least 15 Yemeni soldiers and 12 militants were killed, with more wounded. Militants also captured a troop transport vehicle and took at least 15 Yemeni soldiers hostage. Two of these hostages were released soon thereafter, with reports indicating that they had been “severely beaten.” On April 30, three of the remaining hostages were executed and their bodies left on the roadside, reportedly bearing signs of torture.
- On July 4, six AQAP militants attacked the Wudayah Border Crossing at the Yemen-Saudi Arabia border in Hadramawt, killing at least one Yemeni soldier and several Saudi security officers. Several militants also died, two of them by detonating suicide bombs inside a Saudi government building after being trapped by Saudi security forces.
- On August 8, AQAP militants kidnapped 14 Yemeni soldiers traveling on a bus from Shibam, Hadramawt to Sana’a, executed them, some via beheading, in a market in Shibam, and left their bodies by a road near Sayun, Hadramawt.
- On October 9, an AQAP suicide bomber detonated his vest during a Houthi rally in Tahrir Square, Sana’a, killing at least 45 people and injuring at least 75 more.
- In September 2014, AQAP launched a rocket attack against Yemeni security forces around the perimeter of the U.S. Embassy in Sana’a. The attack did not cause any casualties, but was followed two months later by an IED attack at the northern gate of the embassy that injured multiple embassy security guards.
- On November 10, AQAP militants detonated a VBIED near a Houthi-controlled building in the al-Manaseh region of al-Baydha Governorate, killing dozens.
- On December 6, AQAP militants shot and killed American journalist Luke Somers, who had been held hostage since 2013, during a joint U.S.-Yemeni rescue attempt. A video released by AQAP on December 3 had stated that Somers would be executed by the end of the week if the United States did not meet AQAP’s demands. A South African hostage, Pierre Korkie, was also killed by AQAP during this rescue effort.
- On December 16, AQAP militants in Rada, al-Baidha detonated two VBIEDs near a Houthi checkpoint, killing at least 10 Houthis and an estimated 20 children passing by in a school bus, and wounding many more. Possibly due to popular backlash, AQAP denied responsibility publicly for the attack.
AQAP’s continued use of asymmetric tactics such as ambush-style attacks and assassinations took a heavy toll on military and security forces. AQAP also continued to conduct attacks against pro-government tribes, civilians, and international targets, such as the group’s car bomb attack against the Iranian Ambassador’s residence in Sana’a and AQAP’s murder of two Western civilian hostages (American and South African nationals) during a December rescue attempt. Counterterrorism efforts also suffered from the continued delay in the military and security restructuring process mandated by the 2011 Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Initiative and the National Dialogue Conference outcomes, which left many units plagued by divided loyalties and unreliable command structures.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|