Mosque Attacks Raise Profile of Yemeni ISIS Affiliate

Group Has Struggled to Compete With al-Qaeda

Yemen has had Islamist militant problems for many years, but they’ve always centered around al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). That may have changed with the nation’s ISIS affiliate claiming credit for massive suicide bombings against mosques in the capital of Sanaa.

The fledgling ISIS affiliate in Yemen has only even been discussed for a couple of months, and then primarily for competing with AQAP over recruits and trying to establish itself as at least credible.

How they went from that to carrying out the huge Sanaa attacks today is unclear, to the point that some experts have expressed doubt that Yemeni ISIS was even capable of pulling those strikes off.

AQAP was quick to disavow the attacks, however, and they’re not the sort to deny credit for things they actually did. This might support ISIS’ claim of credit, and if it does turn out to be true, they’re very much established as another problem for war-torn Yemen.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of