ISIS Ups Yemen Presence, Competing for Influence With al-Qaeda

ISIS Bombs Sanaa Mosque, Wounds 13

When one hears about terrorist attacks in Yemen, it’s pretty much always al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). That may not be holding true in the future, however, as ISIS bombed a Shi’ite mosque in the capital city of Sanaa.

The bombing was comparatively small, a planted explosive that wounded 13 people during Friday prayers, and ISIS vowed more attacks against Yemen’s Shi’ite Houthis.

Both ISIS and AQAP are likely to try to outdo each other in strikes against the Houthis, and likewise to try to outdo Saudi Arabia, which is itself attacking Yemen at the same time.

While the parent ISIS organization has established itself as a dominant, and indeed ruling force across West Syria and East Iraq, it has also found a larger group of affiliates, and has been successful in the past at out-competing rival Islamist factions in places like Sinai and Libya.

Yemen would be a difficult task, with AQAP so firmly entrenched, but if ISIS is successful, it could also be ripe for significant territorial gains, with the “recognized” government in exile, and the Houthis being attacked by the international community.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of