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Al-Qaeda’s Infrastructure in the Arabian Peninsula

In October and November of 2010, the Arab media quoted studies and statements made by Arab researchers regarding the recent changes in Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). One cannot exclude the possibility that some of the studies and the journalistic coverage is essentially biased and meant to point to a certain weakening and laxity in the organization’s activity, while at the same time emphasizing the success of the Arab countries in coping with this infrastructure.

From the portrayal made by the Arab researchers, the following points come up:

• For tactical reasons, the organization was forced to carry out smaller, cheaper and less spectacular terrorist attacks, due to the pressure put on the organization by security forces in the area. This pressure is expressed in the increased surveillance capabilities and in drying out the organization’s financial resources. Following these steps, the organization is on the defensive and carries out small and simple terrorist attacks only to prove that it still exists.
• These terrorist attacks are aimed at economic targets and especially oil installations, which are vulnerable due to the difficulty in securing them.
• The change in the organization’s operational pattern is backed up by an operational doctrine based on religious justifications pertaining to “economic Jihad” whose objective is to wear the enemy down and cause as much economic damage as possible.
• The continued pressure on the part of security forces in the area alongside the change in the operational pattern is also accompanied by a change in Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s conduct, expressed in its breaking off from the parent organization and the use of small unstable cells, so as to increase their ability to mislead security forces.
• Researchers contend that Al-Qaeda still suffers from an ideological weakness due to the deviation from the religious ideas of the organization’s founders, especially regarding the determination of enemies.
• Al-Qaeda also has some “foreign” involvement, as it receives the aid of foreign, most likely Iranian, intelligence services.

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