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Press Release | Dec. 20, 2017

Update on recent counterterrorism strikes in Yemen


December 20, 2017
Release Number 20171220-01

TAMPA, Fla. - U.S. forces have conducted multiple ground operations and more than 120 strikes in 2017 to remove key leaders and disrupt the ability of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and ISIS-Yemen to use ungoverned spaces in Yemen as a hub for terrorist recruiting, training, and base of operations to export terror worldwide.

AQAP is one of the terrorist groups most committed to and capable of conducting attacks in America, as assessed by the intelligence and defense communities, while intelligence estimates indicate that ISIS-Y has doubled in size over the past year.

In November, the U.S. conducted 10 strikes across Yemen governorates al-Bayda, and Marib including a strike on Mujahid al-Adani, AQAP Shabwah leader, who was killed Nov. 20 in al-Bayda Governorate, Yemen. Al-Adani, also known as Mohammad Shukri, was a senior leader responsible for planning and conducting terrorist attacks against Yemeni, Coalition and tribal security forces. He exerted significant influence within AQAP's terrorist attack networks, similarly, maintained close ties and access to the group's other senior leaders, and previously served as an AQAP military leader in Aden.

Al-Bayda AQAP facilitator Abu Layth al-Sanaani and three AQAP associates were also killed in the Nov. 20 strike.

Ruwahah al-Sanaani, also an AQAP facilitator, was killed Nov. 2 in Marib Governorate.

In October, a strike Oct. 19 killed Ubaydah al-Lawdari, the Emir of Lawdar, and four associates in al-Bayda Governorate. Al-Lawdari had been known to provide equipment and money in support of AQAP attacks against Coalition forces, posing an increased threat to U.S. interests.

Meanwhile, a series of strikes against two ISIS terror training camps in al-Bayda Oct. 16 killed more than 50 ISIS-Y combatants, disrupting the organization's attempts to recruit and train new fighters.

"The removal of key facilitators in this region will interrupt AQAP's freedom of movement and likely force the group into a reactionary posture, limiting their ability to challenge Yemeni Security Forces and partnered advances," said Lt. Col. Earl Brown, a CENTCOM spokesman.
"U.S. forces also expanded counterterrorism operations in October to encompass both AQAP and ISIS. This parallel targeting effort is required to prevent ISIS-Y from filling the vacuum left by a diminished AQAP footprint or influence in the region," he said.

Ongoing operations pressuring the network have also degraded AQAP's propaganda production, reducing one of the methods for the terror group to recruit and inspire lone wolf attacks across the globe. The al-Masra Newsletter, previously published three times a month, has not been published since July.

Al-Malahim Establishment for Media Production, which produces AQAP's terrorist-inspiring video series, as well as Inspire Magazine, saw a large drop in October. Unable to produce video series and graphic terror-inspiring magazines, AQAP has resorted to using low-tech audio messages.

"U.S. forces have enabled regional counterterrorism partners to regain territory from these terrorists - forcing them to spend more time on survival," said Brown. "These operations have helped to illuminate terrorist networks, making intelligence-gathering, subsequent targeting and follow-on operations increasingly productive and effective.

"Every strike, every raid and every partnered operation advance the defeat of these violent extremist organizations. U.S. forces will continue to use all effective measures to degrade the groups' ability to export terror."