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Modus Operandi of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula

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During 2014, the Al-Malahem media institution, belonging to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), published a series of eight recorded lectures about military strategy and combat methods. The lectures – which were produced and presented by a senior official in the organization, Nasr bin Ali al-Ansi – were featured in the framework of publications by the “Jihadist Military Academy”. In order to make the lectures more approachable, in November, 2014 a 26 page document was published, briefly summarizing the main points of each lecture.

The introduction to the lectures indicates that “military strategy” is only one of many (33) topics covered in over 60 lessons, about a wide variety of military issues – in the areas of history, tactics, training, naval warfare, military engineering, and more (see appendix) – which the AQAP transmits to its students in lectures at the “Jihadist Military Academy”. In addition, the introduction clarifies that the target audience of the videos is the fighters with battlefield experience who “are qualified for taking responsibility for commanding, guiding, and planning”. This sits well with the fact that most of the principles detailed in the lectures apply more to management of the combat system in the battlefield, and not to attacks carried out by lone terrorists or small cells.

After the document was dedicated to the Jihad and Ribat fighters throughout the Islamic world, as well as to the former and current leaders of Jihad (including Abdullah Azam, Osama bin Laden, and Ayman al- Zawahiri), the titles of each lecture were listed:

Chapter 1: Direct and Indirect Strategy

Chapter 2: The Importance of a Grand Strategy

Chapter 3: The Strategic Principle: “To Win in a War or Not Lose It”

Chapter 4: The Powerful Countries and Elements of Force

Chapter 5: Military Technology: Push-button Warfare vs. Traditional Warfare

Chapter 6: Maneuvers and the Principles of Warfare

Chapter 7: Elements of War

Chapter 8: For Commanders Only

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