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Or Maybe al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula Is Pretty Weak

Apropos of White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan’s comment yesterday that al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula had made a new strategic decision to attack the U.S. homeland, Leah Farrall, an al-Qaeda expert and former terrorism adviser to the Australian federal police, says it’s nothing new. “I watched AQAP congeal online in early 02 and I have their founding documents, their guidelines, objectives and rules of conduct and lists of what detachments they formed–right down to the oath recruits were to take,” in case you were wondering about her credentials. She writes:

I know that this is not the first time AQAP has tried to attack in N America. It’s not even the second time. Both of these earlier plots are mini case studies for the last section of my thesis.

And with al Qaeda what is old inevitably becomes new again.

By the way, both of the earlier plots would have been much much bigger than this–had they come to fruition. What this shows is that AQAP has still not reached the capacity it had in its earlier campaign, when it was allowed by its HQ to launch external attacks.

If there’s a way of squaring her comments with Brennan’s, it’s that she points out the Saudi counterterrorism campaign in the middle of the decade “decimated” AQAP and the organization has been slowly getting back to where it was. So what’s new here, if anything?

The only new thing here is the type of device used and reaction to the plot. But even in terms of IED’s, AQAP has always been on the sharp end of the stick when it comes to innovation. That’s because it has a great core of IED engineers who cycle in and out of the organisation.

Not particularly encouraging.

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