According to the UN, the leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Khalid Batarfi, was arrested and his quantity two, Saad Atef al Awlaqi, died throughout an “operation in Ghayda City, Al-Mahrah Governorate, in October.”

This is the primary time Batarfi’s arrest has been formally confirmed. The UN offered no additional particulars in regards to the operation or on Batarfi’s present whereabouts. In early October, the SITE Intelligence Group drew consideration to “unconfirmed reports” indicating Batarfi had been arrested by Yemeni safety forces in the Mahra Governorate after which handed over to Saudi Arabia.

Batarfi grew to become the leader of AQAP in early 2020 after his predecessor was killed in a US airstrike. Batarfi, who’s in his early 40s, is from a Yemeni household however was born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He educated with al Qaeda in Afghanistan earlier than 9/11 and later joined al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen. Batarfi grew to become a key ideologue for the group and, in line with the UN, helped oversee its exterior operations earlier than he grew to become leader.

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The indisputable fact that Batarfi allowed himself to be captured alive throughout the raid moderately than securing “martyrdom” like Osama bin Laden will probably be a serious embarrassment to al Qaeda. In his inaugural deal with as AQAP leader final March, Batarfi said that “as per our methodology, the martyrdom of leaders is proof of its truthfulness, and it is a badge of honor adorned by these leaders,” in line with a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group.

Given Batarfi was the “emir” of certainly one of al Qaeda’s key regional associates, there has arguably not been a extra senior al Qaeda leader captured alive since bin Laden based the group greater than 30 years in the past. Despite placing out statements on different issues in current months, AQAP has not acknowledged Batarfi’s arrest.

The lack of Batarfi is the newest in a string of setbacks for AQAP. In February 2020, the US authorities introduced that Batarfi’s predecessor Qassim al-Rimi had been killed in an airstrike in Yemen. That adopted a lethal capturing assault in December 2019 at Naval Air Station Pensacola by a Saudi air drive officer who was coordinating with AQAP, in line with the US Justice division.

“In addition to leadership losses, AQAP is suffering an erosion of its ranks caused by dissentions and desertions,” and was pressured to disperse from Bayda Governorate after a major army defeat, the UN report states.

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It states that the worldwide al Qaeda community “faces a new and pressing challenge concerning its leadership and strategic direction, following an exceptional period of attrition of its senior leaders” in Afghanistan, Mali, Somalia, Yemen and Syria’s Idlib province.

The report said that no member state had been in a position to affirm studies of the dying from pure causes of al Qaeda’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in October. Last month the US authorities publicly confirmed studies that his deputy Abu Muhammad al-Masri had been killed in Iran in August.

The UN report suggests the seemingly subsequent in line to take over from al-Zawahiri is Saif al-Adel, a veteran Egyptian al Qaeda operative who like al-Masri is believed to have lengthy resided in Iran.

The report states: “Should a succession to al-Zawahiri become necessary, it may be difficult for the new leader to take up residence in Afghanistan, as such a move could have an impact on the interests of the Taliban, given their peace process obligations. Al-Qaida is expected by Member States to overcome these challenges, but it is not clear whether it will ultimately emerge stronger, under a more dynamic leadership, or indeed where its leaders will ultimately find a safe haven from which to operate.”

A possible future surge in ISIS terror assaults

In its wide-ranging evaluation of the worldwide jihadist menace, the UN report warns that as coronavirus restrictions are eased, “a rash of pre-planned attacks may occur” as a result of ISIS is decided to make world information headlines as soon as once more.

The UN report notes that ISIS has loved a “captive audience” amongst Islamist extremists cooped up indoors and spending extra time on-line throughout the pandemic, doubtlessly creating an collected menace.

Between September and November final yr, jihadis carried out a spate of terror assaults in France, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, underlining the enduring menace to Europe. Some of the attackers could have been motivated to behave earlier than it grew to become harder to focus on individuals congregating in public.

A lethal terrorist stabbing assault in a church in Nice, France, in late October and a lethal marauding gun assault in the middle of Vienna, Austria, in early November had been carried out simply hours earlier than nationwide coronavirus lockdowns had been due to enter impact in France and Austria.

According to the report, one jihadi community in Europe inflicting concern is the so-called ” ‘Lions of the Balkans’, an international network composed of elements based in at least Austria, Germany, Switzerland and western Balkan countries.”

According to the UN, each the Vienna attacker and a type of arrested in reference to an ISIS plot to assault US and NATO army bases in Germany thwarted by German police final April had been linked to this community, as had been three jihadis arrested in September in North Macedonia “detected to be involved in the final planning stage of a terrorist attack.”

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The report warns that “[t]he economic and political toll of the pandemic, its aggravation of underlying drivers of violent extremism and its expected impact on counter-terrorism efforts are likely to increase the long-term [jihadist terror] threat everywhere.”

The UN displays assessed that “[i]n conflict zones, where restrictions on movement and gatherings are difficult or impossible to enforce, and where foreign terrorist fighters have continued to travel freely, threat levels have increased,” with the pandemic weakening “the hand of governments in conflict zones more than it has inhibited terrorist groups.” The report warned that the pandemic’s “long-term impact on economies, government resources and allocations for international cooperation risks aggravating the threat further.”

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According to the report, an estimated 10,000 ISIS fighters proceed to wage a “sustained insurgency”in Syria and Iraq. The report says that though the vast majority of these fighters are reported to be in Iraq, stress by Iraqi safety forces is making the nation harder for [ISIS] operations in comparability with” Syria.

Outside the former “caliphate,” the UN report singles out ISIS’s seizure of significant territory along the northern Mozambique coastline and its projection of violence into Tanzania as of great concern. According to the report, ISIS fighters still hold the Mozambique port of Mocimboa da Praia, “regardless of a sustained army offensive from authorities forces.”

The report presents evidence of ISIS cooperating throughout the wider region, with some member states observing “operatives in Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of the Congo had obtained reinforcement of trainers, tactical strategists and monetary help remitted from the [ISIS] core via [ISIS] networks and enablers in Somalia and different East African international locations.”

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