Publication: Terrorism Focus Volume: 3 Issue: 27


On July 8, a court in Yemen, citing lack of evidence, acquitted 19 men accused of planning to blow up a hotel frequented by Americans and to conduct other attacks against Westerners in Yemen (Jerusalem Post, July 8). The 19 defendants were predominately from Yemen, although five from the group were Saudi. The Saudis were allegedly once part of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s al-Qaeda in Iraq cell (Yemen Times, July 9). The prosecution alleged that the suspects had traveled to Iraq, took orders from al-Zarqawi and then filtered back into Yemen to conduct terrorist operations (Yemen Times, July 9). Some of the defendants had Iraqi stamps on their passports and confessed to fighting against U.S. troops in Iraq (Associated Press, July 10). According to Judge Ahmed al-Baadan, who presided over the case, these actions do “not violate law [since] Islamic Sharia law permits jihad against occupiers.” One suspect even admitted that he returned to Yemen to conduct jihad against Americans there (Associated Press, July 10). Analysts believe that the acquittal can partially be explained by President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s attempts to increase his domestic support from Islamists before Yemen’s September presidential elections. Additionally, as stated by Dr. Andrew McGregor in Terrorism Monitor on May 4, while the “number of Yemenis currently fighting in Iraq is probably not large…the presence of the conflict provides an external outlet for Yemen’s most militant Islamists, much like Afghanistan once did.” This reasoning explains the government’s indirect support of radical Islamists within its borders.


In a new al-Qaeda video released on the anniversary of the London bombings, American al-Qaeda convert Adam Gadahn is seen criticizing the United States. Gadahn, who calls himself Azzam al-Amriki (Adam the American), was born in Orange County, California in 1978. His decision to speak out again on behalf of al-Qaeda—appearing in a video that also included statements by London bomber Shehzad Tanweer and al-Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri—has caused concern in some circles because Gadahn, as an American, attempts to explain to Americans the motives behind the mujahideen. In the latest video, Gadahn points to the recent events in Iraq where five U.S. soldiers stand accused of murdering an Iraqi family, in addition to raping a young woman, stating, “…and then when our mujahideen take revenge on the unit which committed this outrage, and capture and execute two of its members, they are called terrorists, and Muslims are supposed to disown them or face the consequences” (As Sahab, July 7). His continued statements make clear that al-Qaeda aims to use Gadahn as a propaganda tool in its operations against the United States.