The Saudi arm of Al Qaeda — also known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula — has apparently taken responsibility for the failed attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound plane on Christmas Eve.
First reported on the website of SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks militant groups (unfortunately their site is by subscription so I’m including The New York Times story about what SITE is reporting), the group calls Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab a “wealthy youth of Nigerian decent” reacting to “unjust aggression on the Arabian Peninsula.”
The group also states the plan would have worked if not for a “technical fault.”
The threat of Al Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula and the importance of the area to Al Qaeda is nothing new..
In 2006, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released a report, “Al Qaeda: The Many Faces of an Islamist Extremist Threat” that pointed out the numerous times Osama bin Laden had spoken of the peninsula.
When he first delcared jihad against the United States, bin Laden titled it, “Declaration of Jihad Against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Mosques: Expel Heretics from the Arabian Peninsula.”
According to a report by the Virginia-based GlobalSecurity.org, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula would like to overthrow the Saudi government, eventually “liberate” Jerusalem and unite the world’s Muslims. The report states that the Saudi government often downplayed the threat posed by the group until a series of deadly attacks in 2003, forced them to come to terms with the danger.
Over the summer, The New York Times reported that US officials were seeing dozens of Al Qaeda fighters and leaders leaving Pakistan and relocating to Yemen and Somalia, both of which were considered safe havens.
Then, in August, AQAP was believed to be behind an attempted suicide attack on the Saudi head of security, a member of the royal family. The powerful explosive, PETN, was a key component in both that attack and the one on the Detroit bound flight, leading analysts to draw connections between them.
And in October, CNN’s terrorism expert, Peter Bergen, warned the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that: “Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula,’ which has taken a punishing beating from the Saudi government in the past several years, remains capable of pulling off significant attacks.”
Clearly, that is the case.