Less than two years ago, Yemeni and Saudi militants formed a new franchise called Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The January 2009 merger of existing operations in Saudi Arabia and Yemen was acknowledged by Osama bin Laden's deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri. Since then, AQAP has hatched a series of attacks against the West and is suspected of being behind the recent UPS and FedEx cargo bombing attempts. Though foiled, the incidents underscore the Al Qaeda offshoot's potential threat beyond the Arabian Peninsula. Here are five of its leaders and key members.
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, whose compound was attacked today, appears unable to shut down the unprecedented challenge to his 32-year rule.
President Saleh, increasingly embattled as civil unrest spreads and tribal leaders intensify their fight, says that Al Qaeda seized the capital of Abyan province. But residents saw no evidence of a fight.
Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh has called for the arrest of Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar, who is leading as many as 10,000 armed men from Yemen's most powerful tribal confederation.
Yemen's President Saleh again rejected a deal to transfer power and allowed armed supporters to surround an embassy where the US ambassador was meeting with European and Arab envoys.
A Gulf-brokered deal to usher Saleh out of power has failed. Yemeni protesters have settled in for the long haul with tents wired for Internet access and satellite TV.
Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki has been referred to as an Al Qaeda leader, strategist, or ideologue – and now, as a successor to Osama bin Laden.
Al Qaeda in Yemen has long acted independently from Osama bin Laden's organization, but Yemen's president may emphasize the threat it poses in order to retain power.
Yemen protesters say Saleh has overstated the threat posed by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to get US aid. But the group stands to benefit from major upheaval.