Al Qaeda in Yemen claims responsibility for cargo bomb plot. What else has it done?

According to jihadist websites, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has claimed responsibility for the Yemen cargo bomb plot. Here is a short history of its other activities in Yemen.

Khaled Abdullah/Reuters
A man walks past the FedEx office in Sanaa, Yemen, last week. Yemen was the source of the cargo plane bombs sent towards the United States via FedEx and UPS; FedEx subsequently halted shipments from Yemen.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a group inspired by Osama bin Laden's original Al Qaeda organization, has officially claimed responsibility for the Yemen cargo plane bomb plot that was foiled Oct. 29. Two bombs were planted as packages on UPS planes headed to the United States.

The group also said it was responsible for the crash of a UPS plane in Dubai Sept. 3, though many officials dismiss that claim.

AQAP itself is less than two years old, but Al Qaeda's roots in Yemen go back 18 years.

Here is a brief history of Al Qaeda activity in the country.

December 1992 Militants funded by Osama bin Laden bomb a hotel housing US troops in the port city of Aden. Two Austrian tourists killed.

Late 1998 Mr. bin Laden sets in motion a plan to attack a US vessel in Yemen, providing funding and choosing the location of the attack.

October 2000 Al Qaeda attacks the USS Cole in the port of Aden, killing 17 US sailors.

November 2001 In the wake of 9/11, President Bush hosts Yemen’s president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, a newly minted ally in the “war on terror.”

November 2002 CIA Predator drone strike kills Abu Ali al-Harithi, the leader of Al Qaeda in Yemen.

February 2006 More than a dozen Al Qaeda operatives are among 23 prisoners who escape from a Yemeni military detention facility.

July 2007 Car bombing at archaeological site kills seven Spanish tourists.

September 2008 Attack on US Embassy in Yemen kills 16; Yemen blames Al Qaeda militants.

January 2009 Al Qaeda franchises in Yemen and Saudi Arabia announce merger, forming Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) headed by a former bin Laden secretary, Nasser al-Wuhayshi; the group also relaunches the Web magazine, Sada al-Malahim (Echoes of Battles).

August 2009 AQAP suicide bomber Abdullah Hasan Tali Asiri, brother of AQAP bombmaker Ibrahim Hassan Asiri, dies trying to assassinate Saudi counterterrorism chief.

Dec. 17, 2009 Airstrike on suspected AQAP hideout in Abyan kills 14 militants, as well as 35 women and children, according to Amnesty International.
Dec. 24, 2009 In a separate strike, Yemen claims to kill 30 AQAP suspects.

Dec. 25, 2009 AQAP ‘Underwear bomber’ Umar Farouk Abdulmutallah of Nigeria tries to down a Northwest flight as it approaches Detroit.

January 2010 US more than doubles counterterrorism aid from $67 million to $150 million.

April 2010 AQAP suicide bomber dies in attack on Britain’s ambassador to Yemen.

August 2010 The Washington Post reports that CIA analysts now see AQAP – not Al Qaeda in Pakistan – as the most urgent threat to US security.

Oct. 7, 2010 AQAP militants attack British embassy workers; no fatalities.

Oct. 29, 2010 Global intelligence agencies intercept US-bound bombs that originated in Yemen and apparently were intended to blow up planes over Chicago.

Sources: 9/11 Commission report, Jamestown Foundation, Gregory Johnsen’s Waq al-Waq blog, Al Jazeera, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and previous Monitor coverage.

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