The brazen attempt to assassinate Prince Mohammed bin Naif in Jeddah on August 27 has focused attention on the re-emergence of al Qa’eda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the threat to regional security from the nexus of instability linking Yemen with the Horn of Africa. Alongside state failure in Somalia, the contraction of state control in Yemen poses a direct and destabilising threat to the states of the Gulf Co-operation Council. It also has profound strategic and commercial implications for regional and global trade routes through the chokepoint of the Bab el-Mandab, which connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden.Prince Mohammed, the deputy interior minister and architect of Saudi Arabia’s counter-terrorism strategy that blunted the previous wave of AQAP militancy in 2003-2004, escaped death when 23-year old Abdullah Asiri blew himself up while waiting to enter Prince Mohammed’s private office to renounce his terrorist links. Asiri was on a list of 85 “most-wanted” terror suspects issued by Saudi authorities in February. He found refuge in Yemen before returning to Saudi Arabia to carry out the attack, which was the first significant one by militants inside the kingdom since 2006.
This incident was significant on three levels.
Firstly, targeting a senior member of the Saudi royal family by Islamist extremists departed from earlier patterns of attacks on western symbols and oil installations. It also provided a stark reminder of the reappearance of the AQAP threat after its reconstitution in Yemen in January 2009.Secondly, AQAP demonstrated both its intent and, on this occasion, its capability, to penetrate the deepest levels of security to strike at the heart of the state apparatus.Thirdly, the method of attack raises questions about the credibility of the kingdom’s counter-radicalisation programme as an innovative approach to winning the war of ideas in the struggle against violent extremism. Following defeat in Saudi Arabia, remnants of AQAP utilised the ungoverned spaces and security gaps in Yemen to regroup and reorganise. A spate of high-profile incidents in 2008 culminated in the co-ordinated assault on the US Embassy in Sana’a in September and the formal merger of the Saudi and Yemeni wings into a reconstituted AQAP in January 2009. The new organisation included two Saudi returnees from Guantanamo Bay in positions of leadership....more..http://www.thenational.ae/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090921/FOREIGN/709209920/1011/NEWS