Al-Qaeda’s center of gravity ‘shifting’ from Pakistan to Yemen.
|A police trooper guards a checkpoint on a street in Sanaa,|
Yemen August 10, 2013. Analysts say the recent terrorist
threat in Yemen suggests al-Qaeda is moving its
powerbase away from Pakistan. (Reuters)
Islamabad | AFP | 14 Aug 2013 :: As al-Qaeda marks its 25th anniversary this month, analysts say the recent security threat in Yemen shows the organization’s center of gravity is shifting away from its historic base in Pakistan.
U.S. President Barack Obama has cautioned that affiliates such as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), a unit of the extremist group that effectively controls parts of Yemen, still pose a threat despite successful efforts to disrupt the organization’s core leadership.
His warning came after the United States closed 19 diplomatic missions in the Middle East and Africa last week after reported intelligence intercepts from al-Qaeda suggested an attack was imminent.
Reports indicated the intercepts involved some kind of group communication between al-Qaeda supremo Ayman al-Zawahiri, and AQAP leader Nasser al-Wuhayshi.
Zawahiri assumed al-Qaeda leadership when Osama bin Laden was killed in a U.S. Special Forces raid in Pakistan in 2011 and the 62-year-old Egyptian is believed to be hiding in the border region with Afghanistan.
Rahimullah Yusufzai, an expert on Islamist groups in Pakistan, said that while the traditional core leadership of al-Qaeda -- which was founded in Peshawar, northwest Pakistan, in 1988 -- still retains symbolic importance, its operational center of gravity has moved.
“In terms of strength, of power, of effectiveness, we can say it has shifted,” he told AFP.
“It is no longer Pakistan or Afganistan, so most of the fighters, most of the affiliates, are not in Pakistan and Afghanistan. By and large, the plans are not coming from Zawahiri.”
Zawahiri, who has a $25 million U.S. government bounty on him, lacks the charisma of bin Laden but has long been seen as the brains of al-Qaeda.(Courtesy:Al Arabia)Read More>>>