[Senate Prints 111-40]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]

111th Congress                                                  S. Prt.
 2d Session                 COMMITTEE PRINT                      111-40

                    AL QAEDA IN YEMEN AND SOMALIA: 
                          A TICKING TIME BOMB


                                A REPORT

                                 TO THE


                          UNITED STATES SENATE

                     One Hundred Eleventh Congress

                             Second Session

                            JANUARY 21, 2010


                 COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS        

             JOHN F. KERRY, Massachusetts, Chairman        
CHRISTOPHER J. DODD, Connecticut     RICHARD G. LUGAR, Indiana
RUSSELL D. FEINGOLD, Wisconsin       BOB CORKER, Tennessee
BARBARA BOXER, California            JOHNNY ISAKSON, Georgia
ROBERT MENENDEZ, New Jersey          JAMES E. RISCH, Idaho
BENJAMIN L. CARDIN, Maryland         JIM DeMINT, South Carolina
ROBERT P. CASEY, Jr., Pennsylvania   JOHN BARRASSO, Wyoming
JIM WEBB, Virginia                   ROGER F. WICKER, Mississippi
JEANNE SHAHEEN, New Hampshire        JAMES M. INHOFE, Oklahoma
                  David McKean, Staff Director        
        Kenneth A. Myers, Jr., Republican Staff Director        


                            C O N T E N T S

Letter of Transmittal............................................     v

Executive Summary................................................     1

1. Al Qaeda Reconstituted........................................     4

    Background...................................................     5

    A Continuing Threat in Pakistan..............................     7

2. Yemen: Exploiting Weaknesses..................................     8

    A Multifaceted Threat to U.S. Interests......................     9

    Al Qaeda Transformation Underway in Yemen....................     9

    A History of Violence and Extremism..........................    11

3. Somalia: Failure Breeds Extremism.............................    13

    Alliance or Not, a Specific Threat to Americans Exists.......    15

    State Failure Offers Further Opportunities for Terrorists....    16

4. Conclusion....................................................    16

No Direct Connection Between al-Shabab and Somali Pirates........    18



                         LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL


                              United States Senate,
                            Committee on Foreign Relations,
                                  Washington, DC, January 21, 2010.
    Dear colleague: This report by the committee majority staff 
is part of our ongoing examination of Al Qaeda's role in 
international terrorism. U.S. and allied operations over the 
past several years have largely pushed Al Qaeda out of 
Afghanistan and Iraq. Many of those fighters traveled to the 
tribal region on the Pakistani side of the border with 
Afghanistan. But ongoing U.S. and Pakistani military and 
intelligence operations there have made it an increasingly 
inhospitable place for Al Qaeda. Consequently, hundreds-or 
perhaps even thousands-of fighters have gone elsewhere. New Al 
Qaeda cells or allied groups have sprung up in North Africa, 
Southeast Asia, and perhaps most importantly in Yemen and 
Somalia. These groups may have only an informal connection with 
Al Qaeda's leadership in Pakistan, but they often share common 
goals. Al Qaeda's recruitment tactics also have changed. The 
group seeks to recruit American citizens to carry out terrorist 
attacks in the United States. These Americans are not 
necessarily of Arab or South Asian descent; they include 
individuals who converted to Islam in prison or elsewhere and 
were radicalized. This report relies on new and existing 
information to explore the current and changing threat posed by 
Al Qaeda, not just abroad, but here at home.
                                             John F. Kerry,

                    AL QAEDA IN YEMEN AND SOMALIA: 
                          A TICKING TIME BOMB


                           Executive Summary

    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the offshoot of Osama 
bin Laden's terrorist network operating in Yemen and Saudi 
Arabia, has evolved into an ambitious organization capable of 
using non-traditional recruits to launch attacks against 
American targets within the Middle East and beyond. Evidence of 
its potential became front-page news after a young Nigerian 
trained at one of its camps in Yemen tried to blow up a 
passenger aircraft bound for Detroit on Christmas Day.
    For American counter-terrorism experts in the region, the 
Christmas Day plot was a nearly catastrophic illustration of a 
significant new threat from a network previously regarded as a 
regional danger, rather than an international one. The concern 
now is that the group has grown more dangerous by taking 
advantage of the weakened central government in Yemen, which is 
struggling with civil conflicts and declining natural 
resources. These experts have said they are worried that 
training camps established in remote parts of Yemen by Al Qaeda 
in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) are being run by former 
detainees and veteran fighters from Afghanistan and Iraq and 
used to instruct U.S. citizens who have immigrated to Yemen to 
marry local women or after converting to Islam in American 
    Law enforcement and intelligence officials told the 
Committee staff in interviews in December in Yemen and other 
countries in the region that as many as 36 American ex-convicts 
arrived in Yemen in the past year, ostensibly to study Arabic. 
The officials said there are legitimate reasons for Americans 
and others to study and live in Yemen, but they said some of 
the Americans had disappeared and are suspected of having gone 
to Al Qaeda training camps in ungoverned portions of the 
impoverished country. Similar concerns were expressed about a 
smaller group of Americans who moved to Yemen, adopted a 
radical form of Islam, and married local women. So far, the 
officials said they have no evidence that any of these 
Americans have undergone training. But they said they are on 
heightened alert because of the potential threat from 
extremists carrying American passports and the related 
challenges involved in detecting and stopping homegrown 
    The staff interviews were conducted just before the failed 
Christmas Day plot. The ability of Al Qaeda to expand beyond 
its core members by recruiting non-traditional adherents was 
one of the lessons drawn by counter-terrorism experts from the 
failed attempt to blow up the aircraft. The suspected bomber 
was a Nigerian man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, who had 
overstayed an education visa in Yemen by several months and had 
undergone explosives training at one of the remote Al Qaeda 
camps. His father, a respected retired banker and former 
Nigerian government official, had warned the U.S. embassy in 
Nigeria about his son's growing radicalism and disappearance 
while in Yemen, but Abdalmuttallab was able to use a U.S. visa 
to board the flight in Amsterdam with a bomb sewn into his 
underwear. He was overcome by passengers and crew members as he 
tried to detonate the device and has been indicted by a federal 
grand jury in Michigan on charges of attempted murder and 
attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction.
    The Yemeni origins of the bomb plot, the Nigerian homeland 
of the accused bomber, and the flight path from the Netherlands 
underscored the fact that American counter-terrorism efforts 
cannot focus exclusively on a single country or region and that 
an attack could come from anywhere. These concerns are deepened 
by growing evidence of attempts by Al Qaeda to recruit American 
residents and citizens in Yemen, Somalia and within the United 
States. What is required is a measured, strategic assessment of 
the threats that exist today, wherever they originate.
    In important ways, the United States is safer than it was 
before the attacks of September 11, 2001. Our intelligence and 
law enforcement agencies have worked effectively at home and 
abroad to disrupt threats and heighten vigilance. U.S. 
intelligence and military officials agree that Al Qaeda's 
capacity to carry out large-scale terrorist operations has been 
significantly degraded. Its financial and popular support is 
declining and U.S. and allied operations have killed or 
captured much of Al Qaeda's leadership, with the notable 
exceptions of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. Polls show 
that support for the organization has weakened among Muslims 
because of its harsh tactics, including repeated suicide 
attacks that have killed thousands of innocent civilians in 
Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries.
    The U.S. military has largely pushed Al Qaeda out of 
Afghanistan and Iraq. While the military efforts should be 
praised, they have not eliminated the threat. Many fighters 
affiliated with Al Qaeda and other militant groups have taken 
refuge across the Afghan border in Pakistan's Federally 
Administered Tribal Authority, which remains a major safe 
haven. At the same time, intelligence and counter-terrorism 
officials said hundreds and perhaps thousands of veterans of 
the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have relocated to other 
places, primarily Yemen and Somalia.
    While Al Qaeda's short-term goals remain the same-to bring 
down a U.S. airliner, to push U.S. and NATO troops out of 
Afghanistan, and to attack a broad range of targets worldwide-
its methods have changed in response to American successes 
against the core organization. Many groups acting under Al 
Qaeda's banner are only loosely affiliated with the leadership. 
More often, they raise their own money and plan and execute 
attacks independently. Operational decisions are routinely made 
at the local level, rather than by bin Laden or Zawahiri.
    Despite these changes, there are common elements that serve 
as warning signals to U.S. intelligence and counter-terrorism 
officials. For example, Yemen and Somalia have a core of 
trained militants who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq. Both 
Yemen and Somalia have weak central governments that exercise 
little or no control over vast swaths of their own territory 
and forbidding, harsh terrains that would make it virtually 
impossible for U.S. forces to operate freely. They have 
abundant weapons and experience using them on the battlefield. 
Government cooperation with American counter-terrorism efforts 
has historically been spotty and portions of both populations 
are hostile to the United States.
    In Yemen, the limited reach of the central government and 
changes in the country's demographics have permitted extremists 
to thrive. In addition to AQAP, Yemen confronts a tribal revolt 
in the north of the country, a secessionist movement in the 
south, and rising poverty rates. The country's foreign 
minister, Abu Bakr al-Qiribi, recently acknowledged that the 
rebellion and secessionist movement had distracted the 
government from going after Al Qaeda in the last year.
    AQAP, the primary terrorist group in the country, is 
closely linked to Al Qaeda. The local affiliate is led by a 
Yemeni militant who was involved in the 2000 attack on the USS 
Cole in which 17 American sailors were killed. He was among 23 
Al Qaeda fighters who escaped from a Yemeni prison in February 
2006, reportedly with help from security officials. The group's 
deputy is a Saudi citizen who was released from Guantanamo in 
November 2007. After completing a Saudi government-sponsored 
rehabilitation program, he slipped south into Yemen and 
returned to militancy.
    Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Salih has promised that his 
security services will track down members of Al Qaeda and there 
has been considerable cooperation between U.S. intelligence and 
military units and their Yemeni counterparts. But Salih's 
government angered Washington by releasing militants who claim 
to have renounced violence, including some former Guantanamo 
detainees and one of the masterminds of the Cole bombing. In 
early January, President Obama reflected these concerns when he 
suspended the release of further Yemeni detainees from 
Guantanamo, where they comprise about half the remaining 
    Al Qaeda also is expanding its presence across the Gulf of 
Aden in Somalia. U.S. counter-terrorism officials told the 
Committee staff they fear American citizens are being recruited 
in Somalia for terrorist operations. They pointed to several 
Somali-Americans arrested in Minnesota in early 2009 after 
returning from fighting alongside al-Shabab, which is the 
dominant militant group in Somalia and has close ties to Al 
Qaeda. Officials also expressed concern about two dozen 
Americans of Somali origin who disappeared in recent months 
from St. Paul, Minnesota; similar disappearances have been 
reported in Ohio and Oregon. The vast majority of Somali-
Americans has been alarmed by these developments and cooperated 
in investigations.
    While most of our counter-terrorism resources are rightly 
focused on Afghanistan and Pakistan, the potential threats from 
Yemen and Somalia pose new challenges for the United States and 
other countries fighting extremism worldwide. The prospect that 
U.S. citizens are being trained at Al Qaeda camps in both 
countries deepens our concern and emphasizes the need to 
understand the nature of the evolving dangers. President Obama 
has pledged to strengthen our relationship with the Yemeni 
government through increased military and intelligence 
cooperation. Addressing emerging dangers in Yemen and elsewhere 
in the region constitutes a vital national security interest, 
and this report is intended to provide information that will 
help guide us in that mission.

                       1. Al Qaeda Reconstituted

    Al Qaeda has been battered around the world since its 
attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. The group 
is facing dwindling financial and popular support and 
difficulty working with other extremists around the world. U.S. 
and allied operations against Al Qaeda have killed or captured 
many of the organization's leaders, while the majority of 
Muslims around the world are repulsed by its methods.
    The U.S. military has pushed Al Qaeda out of Afghanistan. 
Similar U.S. success in Iraq has forced hundreds of fighters 
out of that country. As a result, the bulk of Al Qaeda fighters 
have relocated to Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal 
Authority, along its border with Afghanistan. Large numbers 
have relocated to other parts of the world, including Yemen and 
    Despite setbacks, Al Qaeda is not on the run. The group has 
expanded its recruitment efforts to attract non-traditional 
followers and adapted its operations. U.S. law enforcement 
authorities told Committee staff they believe that as many as 
three dozen U.S. citizens who converted to Islam while in 
prison have traveled to Yemen, possibly for Al Qaeda training. 
As many as a dozen U.S. citizens who married Muslim women and 
converted to Islam also have made their way to Yemen. In some 
cases, Al Qaeda recruits have come from moderate backgrounds, 
like would-be Christmas bomber Omar Faruq Abdulmutallab, whose 
father is one of Nigeria's most highly-respected bankers and a 
former government minister.
    While goals have remained unchanged, the methods with which 
Al Qaeda tries to accomplish those goals have changed. Many 
groups linked to Al Qaeda are only loosely affiliated and act 
on their own.
    That said, recent history demonstrates that several factors 
bind Al Qaeda members together. The first is friendship forged 
on the battlefield. Arabs who fought the Soviets in Afghanistan 
call themselves ``Afghan alumni.'' Thousands went to Yemen 
after the Soviets' defeat and were welcomed as heroes. Many of 
them fought again side-by-side in southern Yemen during that 
country's civil war in 1994. The second is discipleship. Most 
young Yemeni Al Qaeda fighters captured in Afghanistan and 
Pakistan after the September 11 attacks said they had decided 
to make jihad against the United States only after being 
prodded into doing so by the imams in their villages. Third are 
family and tribal ties, although this same dynamic can work 
against it in Somalia. Arabs have historically married across 
tribes-and even nationalities-to cement alliances and power, 
and Al Qaeda benefits from this trend. Somalis, however, have 
tended to be a more insular society.\1\
    \1\ ``To Beat Al Qaeda, Look to the East,'' by Scott Atran, New 
York Times, December 13, 2009.
    Over the past eight years, Al Qaeda has evolved into a 
significantly different terrorist organization than the one 
that perpetrated the September 11 attacks. At the time, Al 
Qaeda was composed mostly of a core of veterans of the Afghan 
insurgency against the Soviets, with a leadership structure 
made up mostly of Egyptians and bin Laden, a Saudi of Yemeni 
descent. Most of the organization's plots either emanated 
from--or were approved by--the leadership.
    The Al Qaeda of that period no longer exists. Due to 
pressures from U.S. and international intelligence and security 
organizations, it has transformed into a diffuse global network 
and philosophical movement composed of dispersed nodes with 
varying degrees of independence. The leadership, headed by bin 
Laden and Zawahiri, is thought to be in the mountainous border 
region of northwest Pakistan, where it continues to train 
operatives, recruit, and disseminate propaganda.\2\ But Al 
Qaeda cells or affiliated groups in Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, North 
Africa, and Southeast Asia now represent critical players in 
the larger movement. Some cells receive money, training, and 
weapons; others look to the leadership in Pakistan for 
strategic guidance, theological justification, and a larger 
narrative of global struggle. Michael E. Leiter, Director of 
the National Counter Terrorism Center, said in an April 2009 
speech that the trajectory of Al Qaeda is ``less centralized 
command and control, no clear center of gravity, and likely 
rising and falling centers of gravity, depending on where the 
U.S. and the international focus is for that period.'' \3\
    \2\ See Kristin M. Lord, John A. Nagl, and Seth Rosen, ``Beyond 
Bullets: A Pragmatic Strategy to Combat Violent Islamist Extremism,'' 
Center for a New American Security, June 2009, p.10.
    \3\ ``Remarks by Michael E. Leiter, Director of the National 
Counter Terrorism Center,'' at The Aspen Institute, April 9, 2009.
    The Al Qaeda network today also is made up of semi-
autonomous cells which often have only peripheral ties to 
either the leadership in Pakistan or affiliated groups 
elsewhere. Sometimes these individuals never leave their home 
country but are radicalized with the assistance of others who 
have traveled abroad for training and indoctrination. The July 
2005 London bombers are an example of semi-autonomous actors in 
the Al Qaeda universe, as is Najibullah Zazi, an Afghan living 
in Denver who was charged in September 2009 with conspiring to 
carry out bombings in the United States. The London bombers, 
radicalized in the UK, sought training in Pakistan before 
returning home to carry out their attacks. Similarly, Zazi 
reportedly was radicalized in the United States before 
traveling to Pakistan for training.
    Another category of today's Al Qaeda movement is self-
radicalized individuals, who lack any connection to the larger 
network but accept Al Qaeda's theological arguments and 
strategic aspirations. One example is Michael C. Finton, 
arrested in September 2009 in Illinois on charges of attempting 
to use a weapon of mass destruction.\4\ Finton, 29, converted 
to Islam while serving in an Illinois prison from 1999 to 2005 
for robbery and battery charges. According to a court 
affidavit, he traveled to Saudi Arabia in March 2008. An 
undercover Federal Bureau of Investigation agent posing as a 
low-level Al Qaeda operative met with Finton in the months 
leading up to his September arrest. The officer provided him 
with a van containing materials he said were explosives. Finton 
then parked the van outside a federal courthouse in 
Springfield, Illinois, where he was arrested. There is no 
evidence that Finton underwent Al Qaeda training or conspired 
with others, like Zazi and the London bombers did.
    \4\ For more, see ``Men Accused of Unrelated Bomb Plots in Ill., 
Texas,'' Associated Press, September 24, 2009.
    Despite Al Qaeda's transformation in recent years, its 
strategic objectives remain the same: to attack the United 
States and governments seen as supporting the Americans. John 
O. Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security 
and Counterterrorism, told the Center for Strategic and 
International Studies in an August 2009 speech that ``Al Qaeda 
has proven to be adaptive and highly resilient and remains the 
most serious terrorist threat we face as a nation.'' \5\ The 
U.S. intelligence community assesses that Al Qaeda is 
``actively engaged in operational plotting and continues 
recruiting, training, and transporting operatives, to include 
individuals from Western Europe and North America,'' according 
to Leiter's testimony in September 2009 before the Senate 
Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.\6\
    \5\ ``Remarks by John O. Brennan, Assistant to the President for 
Homeland Security and Counterterrorism,'' at the Center for Strategic 
and International Studies, August 6, 2009.
    \6\ ``Testimony of Michael Leiter at hearing `Eight Years After 9/
11: Confronting the Terrorist Threat to the Homeland,' '' before the 
U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, 
September 30, 2009.
    Thanks in large part to the actions of the U.S. government, 
Al Qaeda and its leadership in Pakistan are under tremendous 
pressure. U.S. military and intelligence operations have 
reportedly degraded the leadership's capacity for conducting 
external operations and raising funds.\7\ Dennis C. Blair, 
Director of National Intelligence, told the Senate Select 
Committee on Intelligence in February 2009 that Al Qaeda 
``today is less capable and effective than it was a year ago.'' 
    \7\ ``Statement of Robert S. Mueller, III, Director Federal Bureau 
of Investigation,'' before the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland 
Security and Governmental Affairs, September 30, 2009.
    \8\ ``Annual Threat Assessment of the Intelligence Community for 
the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence,'' Dennis C. Blair, 
Director of National Intelligence, February 12, 2009.
    Though Al Qaeda affiliated groups have carried out numerous 
deadly terrorist attacks over the past two years, the 
leadership in Pakistan has demonstrated limited operational 
effectiveness during that same time span. In part because of 
the loss of top commanders and continued pressure from U.S. 
intelligence activities and those of foreign partners, Al Qaeda 
has been unable to orchestrate successful large-scale attacks. 
There is also some evidence that Al Qaeda is struggling to 
retain recruits and raise funds. In June 2009, the group's 
leader in Afghanistan, Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, released an audio 
message asking for money because Al Qaeda members were short of 
food, weapons, and other supplies. \9\
    \9\ William Maclean, ``Al-Qaida's Money Trouble,'' Reuters, June 
15, 2009.
    The Al Qaeda movement faces perhaps an even larger 
challenge in the form of a legitimacy crisis within Muslim 
communities. According to Blair, the United States has ``seen 
notable progress in Muslim opinion turning against terrorist 
groups like Al Qaeda.'' \10\ Muslim populations worldwide, some 
of which approved of Al Qaeda's actions in the wake of the 
invasion of Iraq, appear to have turned against the movement. 
The killing of innocent Muslims in Iraq and Pakistan, as well 
as the bombing of three hotels in Amman, Jordan in November 
2005, produced a significant backlash. For example, a poll 
conducted by Jordan University's Center for Strategic Studies a 
month after the Amman bombings showed that only 20 percent of 
the population viewed Al Qaeda as a ``legitimate resistance 
group,'' down from 67 percent in 2004.\11\ Over the past two 
years, several prominent religious scholars and former Al Qaeda 
associates-including Saudi fundamentalists Sheikh Salman al-
Awda and Sayyid Imam al-Sharif, one of Al Qaeda's original 
spiritual leaders--have spoken out against the indiscriminate 
tactics and ideology.
    \10\ ``Annual Threat Assessment of the Intelligence Community for 
the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence,'' Dennis C. Blair, 
Director of National Intelligence, February 12, 2009.
    \11\ Murad Batal Al-Shishani, ``Jordanian Poll Indicates Erosion of 
Public Support for Al Qaeda,'' Terrorism Focus, Vol. 3, No. 6, February 
14, 2006.
A Continuing Threat in Pakistan
    U.S. officials remain concerned that Al Qaeda terrorists 
maintain bases and training camps in Pakistan and that the 
group appears to have increased its influence among the myriad 
Islamist militant groups operating along the Pakistan-
Afghanistan border. Bin Laden and Zawahiri are believed to be 
hiding in northwestern Pakistan, along with most other senior 
operatives.\12\ Al Qaeda leaders have issued statements 
encouraging Pakistani Muslims to ``resist'' the American 
``occupiers'' in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to fight against 
Pakistan's ``U.S.-allied politicians and officers.'' \13\ A 
2007 National Intelligence Estimate on terrorist threats to the 
United States concluded that Al Qaeda ``has protected or 
regenerated key elements of its homeland attack capability, 
including a safe haven in [Pakistan's Federally Administered 
Tribal Areas], operational lieutenants, and its top 
leadership.'' \14\
    \12\ ``CIA Chief Says Bin Laden in Pakistan,'' Reuters, June 11, 
2009; ``Al Qaeda's Global Base is Pakistan, Says Petraeus,'' Wall 
Street Journal, May 9, 2009.
    \13\ See, for example, ``Qaeda's Zawahiri Urges Pakistanis to Join 
Jihad,'' Reuters, July 15, 2009.
    \14\ See http://www.dni.gov/press--releases/20070717--release.pdf.
    Islamabad reportedly has remanded to U.S. custody roughly 
500 Al Qaeda fighters since 2001, including several senior 
operatives. U.S. officials say that drone-launched U.S. missile 
attacks and Pakistan's pressing of military offensives against 
extremist groups in the border areas have meaningfully 
disrupted Al Qaeda activities there while inflicting heavy 
human losses.\15\ The August death of Al Qaeda-allied Pakistani 
Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, reportedly caused by a U.S.-
launched missile, may have thrown Islamist militants in western 
Pakistan into disarray. Some analysts worry, however, that 
successful military operations are driving Al Qaeda fighters 
into Pakistani cities where they will be harder to target and, 
fueling already significant anti-American sentiments among the 
Pakistani people. The Pakistani military has conducted 
successful counter-insurgency campaigns to wrest two parts of 
the country from Pakistani Taliban control, the Swat Valley and 
South Waziristan. Still militants continue to use some of the 
rugged tribal areas as bases of operations.
    \15\ ``U.S. Missile Strikes Take Heavy Toll on Al Qaeda, Officials 
Say,'' Los Angeles Times, March 22, 2009; ``Al Qaeda Seen as Shaken in 
Pakistan,'' Washington Post, June 1, 2009; ``Al Qaeda Weakened as Key 
Leaders are Slain in Recent Attacks,'' Associated Press, September 19, 
    It is clear that there is a significant Al Qaeda threat in 
Pakistan. But there are significant Al Qaeda populations in 
Yemen and Somalia, too. As Al Qaeda members continue to resist 
U.S. and Pakistani forces along the Afghanistan-Pakistan 
border, some of their comrades appear to be moving to Yemen and 
Somalia, where the political climate allows them to seek safe 
haven, recruit new members, and train for future operations.

                    2. Yemen: Exploiting Weaknesses

    There are parallels between Pakistan and Yemen, according 
to U.S. counter-terrorism officials, military leaders, and 
policymakers. Both have become havens for significant numbers 
of Al Qaeda fighters formerly active in Afghanistan. Both have 
weak central governments that have difficulty controlling vast 
swaths of their own territory and populations that are often 
hostile to the United States.
    The weak central government and alarming socioeconomic 
changes in Yemen have provided opportunities for terrorist 
groups to build and maintain a presence. The government's 
counter-terrorism efforts are further hobbled by the conflicts 
in the northern and southern parts of the country.
    Overall, Islamic extremist groups are not strong enough to 
topple President Salih's regime-he has co-opted several 
already-but they are capable of successfully striking a high 
value target, such as a foreign compound or an oil 
installation. On September 17, 2008, the Al Qaeda affiliate 
attacked the entrance of the U.S. Embassy in Sana'a, killing 11 
people. Six of the attackers also died. Observers note that 
despite such a brazen attack, Yemeni militants failed to breach 
the U.S. Embassy's outer layer of security and killed mostly 
Yemeni civilians rather than U.S. Embassy personnel. 
Nevertheless, media coverage may have been enough to satisfy 
the perpetrators, as the U.S. State Department soon after the 
attack announced that it would, for the second time in a year, 
authorize the departure of all nonessential personnel from 
    \16\ ``Yemen: Background and U.S. Relations,'' by Jeremy Sharp, 
Congressional Research Service, page 8.
    Yemen exhibits several traits that worry counter-terrorism 
and intelligence officials. Worsening socioeconomic trends have 
the potential to overwhelm the Yemeni government, further 
jeopardizing domestic stability and security across the region. 
Yemen's oil-the source of over 75 percent of its income-will 
run out by 2017, and the country has no apparent way to 
transition to a post-oil economy.\17\ More worrisome is the 
rapidly depleting water supply. Shortages are acute throughout 
the country, and Sana'a may become the first capital city in 
the world to run out of water.\18\ The country's water is being 
consumed much faster than it is being replenished. A large 
amount of Yemen's water consumption is devoted to the 
irrigation of qat, a semi-narcotic plant habitually chewed by 
an estimated 75 percent of Yemeni men. Qat is blamed for 
decreasing productivity, depleting resources, and contributing 
to the poverty that leaves nearly half the population earning 
less than $2 per day.\19\ The country also faces one of the 
world's highest population growth rates, 3.4 percent a year, 
which strains the government's ability to provide services and 
contributes to an illiteracy rate of more than 50 percent.\20\
    \17\ ``Yemen: Avoiding a Downward Spiral,'' by Christopher Boucek, 
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Middle East Program, Number 
102, September 2009.
    \18\ Ibid.
    \19\ Ibid.
    \20\ CIA World Factbook, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/
January 12, 2009.
A Multifaceted Threat to U.S. Interests
    U.S. diplomats and law enforcement officials say that a 
significant threat to U.S. interests could come from American 
citizens based in Yemen. Most worrisome is a group of as many 
as three dozen former criminals who converted to Islam in 
prison, were released at the end of their sentences, and moved 
to Yemen, ostensibly to study Arabic. U.S. officials told 
Committee staff that they fear that these Americans were 
radicalized in prison and traveled to Yemen for training. 
Although there is no public evidence of any terrorist action by 
these individuals, law enforcement officials told Committee 
staff members that several have ``dropped off the radar'' for 
weeks at a time. U.S. law enforcement officials said they are 
on heightened alert because of the potential threat from 
extremists carrying American passports and the related 
challenges involved in detecting and stopping homegrown 
    Another concern is a group of nearly 10 non-Yemeni 
Americans who traveled to Yemen, converted to Islam, became 
fundamentalists, and married Yemeni women so they could remain 
in the country. Described by one American official as ``blond-
haired, blue eyed-types,'' these individuals fit a profile of 
Americans whom Al Qaeda has sought to recruit over the past 
several years. Most of them reside in Sana'a.
    Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born imam who reportedly was the 
spiritual advisor of Major Nidal Hassan, a U.S. Army officer 
accused of murdering 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas in November 
2009, currently resides in Yemen. U.S. law enforcement 
officials told Committee staff that Awlaki counsels young 
Muslim fundamentalists to ``continue jihad'' and to ``fight the 
Crusaders.'' Although Awlaki has not yet been accused of a 
crime, U.S. intelligence and military officials consider him to 
be a direct threat to U.S. interests.
    Meanwhile, according to U.S. law enforcement officials, 34 
members of Al Qaeda who came to Sana'a from Afghanistan, 
Pakistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo and who registered with the 
Yemeni government as Al Qaeda members, live in the immediate 
vicinity of the U.S. Embassy. These Al Qaeda fighters, upon 
registering their affiliation with the Yemeni government, 
promised to refrain from all terrorist activities.
Al Qaeda Transformation Underway in Yemen
    In January 2009, Al Qaeda militants in Yemen announced that 
the group's Saudi and Yemeni ``branches'' were merging under 
the banner of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The 
Saudi extremists had carried out a wave of terrorist violence 
that swept Saudi Arabia from 2003 through 2007, but they were 
driven south to Yemen after a crackdown. AQAP is led by a 
Yemeni militant\21\ who in 2006 escaped from a Yemeni prison 
along with 22 other Al Qaeda fighters, reportedly with help 
from Yemeni security officials. One of his deputies is a Saudi 
citizen who was repatriated to Saudi Arabia from Guantanamo in 
November 2007 and returned to militancy after completing a 
rehabilitation course in Saudi Arabia. Some counter-terrorism 
experts suggested that the presence of Saudi militants in Yemen 
indicates that Al Qaeda's presence in the kingdom has been 
significantly hampered by Saudi security forces and that they 
have gone to Yemen because of its more permissive 
    \21\ According to a number of sources, the leader of Al Qaeda in 
Yemen is a 32-year-old former bin Laden secretary named Nasir al 
Wuhayshi. Like other well-know operatives, Wuhayshi was a member of the 
23-person contingent who escaped from a Yemeni prison in 2006. 
Wuhayshi's personal connection to bin Laden has reportedly enhanced his 
legitimacy among his followers. After the fall of the Taliban in 
Afghanistan in 2001, he escaped through Iran, but was arrested there 
and held for two years until he was deported to Yemen in 2003. See, 
Gregory D. Johnsen, ``Al Qaeda in Yemen Reorganizes under Nasir al-
Wuhayshi,'' Terrorism Focus, Volume 5, Issue 11, published by the 
Jamestown Foundation, March 18, 2008.
    \22\ According to one Saudi commander, ``We have killed or captured 
all the fighters and the rest have fled to Afghanistan or Yemen. . . . 
All that remains here is some ideological apparatus.'' See, ``Saudis 
Retool to Root Out Terrorist Risk,'' New York Times, March 22, 2009.
    In recent months, AQAP has threatened to attack Yemeni oil 
facilities and the soldiers protecting them, Western interests 
in Yemen, and foreign tourists. In March 2009, AQAP suicide 
bombers killed four South Korean tourists and their local 
Yemeni guide near the city of Shibam. A week later, they 
carried out a second attack against a convoy of South Korean 
officials who had traveled to Yemen to investigate the murders. 
Some analysts suggested that AQAP may have received assistance 
from a source inside the security forces in order to carry out 
a bombing against a well-guarded foreign delegation on its way 
from the country's main airport.
    In 2009, several high ranking U.S. intelligence and defense 
officials suggested that Yemen was becoming a failed state and 
consequently a more important theater for U.S. counterterrorism 
operations. In February 2009, CIA Director Leon Panetta said he 
was ``particularly concerned with Somalia and Yemen. Somalia is 
a failed state. Yemen is almost there. And our concern is that 
both could become safe havens for Al Qaeda.'' \23\ A few months 
later, DNI Director Blair stated that ``Yemen is reemerging as 
a jihadist battleground and potential regional base of 
operations for Al Qaeda to plan internal and external attacks, 
train terrorists, and facilitate the movement of operatives.'' 
In his April 2009 testimony before the Senate Armed Services 
Committee, Commander of U.S. Central Command General David H. 
Petraeus said, ``The inability of the Yemeni government to 
secure and exercise control over all of its territory offers 
terrorist and insurgent groups in the region, particularly Al 
Qaeda, a safe haven in which to plan, organize, and support 
terrorist operations.'' \24\
    \23\ Central Intelligence Agency, ``Media Roundtable with CIA 
Director Leon E. Panetta,'' press release, February 25, 2009.
    \24\ U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on Armed Services, U.S. Policy 
on Afghanistan , Pakistan, Statement of David H. Petraeus, Commander, 
U.S. Central Command, 111th Congress, April 1, 2009.
    In testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and 
Governmental Affairs Committee in April 2009, Michael Leiter, 
director of the National Counterterrorism Center, remarked ``We 
have witnessed the reemergence of Al Qaeda in the Arabian 
Peninsula, with Yemen as a key battleground and potential 
regional base of operations from which Al Qaeda can plan 
attacks, train recruits, and facilitate the movement of 
operatives . . . We are concerned that if AQAP strengthens, Al 
Qaeda leaders could use the group and the growing presence of 
foreign fighters in the region to supplement its transnational 
operations capability.'' \25\
    \25\ ``Al Qaeda Focuses on Yemen as Launchpad: U.S.,'' Agence 
France Presse, September 30, 2009
    U.S. diplomats and western press reports indicate that Al 
Qaeda has grown bolder in Yemen in the past year. In late 
December 2009, Al Qaeda militants made a rare public appearance 
in southern Yemen, telling an anti-government rally that the 
group's war was with the United States, and not with the Yemeni 
army. Al-Jazeera television showed footage of the militant 
addressing the crowd while an armed comrade stood by as a 
bodyguard. Both were unmasked.\26\ Also in late 2009, Yemeni 
government officials said that Al Qaeda was responsible for a 
daring armored car robbery in Aden, which netted $500,000. No 
arrests have been made.
    \26\ ``Qaeda Makes Rare Public Appearance at Yemen Rally,'' The 
Washington Post, December 21, 2009.
    American concerns have been reflected in stepped-up 
cooperation with the Yemeni military and security services. In 
December, the deputy director of the CIA, Stephen Kappes, 
visited the capital for consultations. After the Christmas Day 
bomb plot, President Obama announced that the United States 
would increase its training and equipping of Yemen's security 
A History of Violence and Extremism
    Christopher Boucek, a fellow with the Carnegie Endowment 
for International Peace, recently wrote that, ``Islamist 
extremism in Yemen is the result of a long and complicated set 
of developments. A large number of Yemeni nationals 
participated in the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan during the 
1980s. After the Soviet occupation ended, the Yemeni government 
encouraged its citizens to return and also permitted foreign 
veterans to settle in Yemen. Many of these Arabs were 
integrated into the state's various security apparatuses. As 
early as 1993, the U.S. State Department noted in a now-
declassified intelligence report that Yemen was becoming an 
important stop for many fighters leaving Afghanistan. The 
report also maintained that the Yemeni government was either 
unwilling or unable to curb their activities. Islamist 
activists were used by the regime throughout the 1980s and 
1990s to suppress domestic opponents, and during the 1994 civil 
war Islamists fought against southern forces.'' \27\
    \27\ ``Yemen: Avoiding a Downward Spiral,'' by Christopher Boucek, 
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Middle East Program, Number 
102, September 2009.
    Al Qaeda's first known attack took place in 1993 in Aden. 
After several serious attacks in the early 2000s, including on 
the USS Cole and the French oil tanker MV Limburg, Yemen 
experienced a brief period of calm. Analysts believe this was 
the result of a short-lived ``non-aggression pact'' between the 
government and extremists and enhanced U.S.-Yemeni counter-
terrorism cooperation. By 2004, however, a generational split 
by younger extremists, radicalized in part by the global Sunni 
Islamist revival and the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, led to the 
emergence of a group not interested in negotiating with what it 
viewed as an illegitimate and un-Islamic government in Sana'a. 
Several prison escapes of experienced and dangerous operatives 
further energized this younger faction, which launched a new 
campaign of violent attacks against oil facilities, foreign 
residents and tourists, and government security targets.
    Western targets in Yemen would make attractive targets for 
a resurgent Al Qaeda. Recent counter-terrorism measures in 
Saudi Arabia forced extremists to seek refuge elsewhere and 
analysts have observed a steady flow relocating to Yemen's 
under-governed areas.\28\ Saudi authorities recently released a 
list of 85 most-wanted terrorism suspects, 26 of whom are 
believed to be in Yemen, including eleven Saudis who had been 
detained at Guantanamo.
    \28\ ``Yemen: Avoiding a Downward Spiral,'' by Christopher Boucek, 
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Middle East Program, Number 
102, September 2009.
    For the central government, the Houthi rebellion in the 
north and the secessionist movement in the South represent 
threats to the survival of the state. Al Qaeda has attacked 
Yemeni government interests in the past, and Al Qaeda figures 
in the country have made public statements opposing the 
government. Senior Yemeni officials say frequently that their 
country is working with allies, including the United States, to 
fight terrorism. But U.S. officials complain that the Yemeni 
government often does not appear serious about the Al Qaeda 
threat because a number of high-profile suspects have either 
been released from custody or have escaped from Yemeni prisons. 
U.S. government officials describe Yemeni cooperation on 
counter-terrorism issues as ``episodic at best.''\29\
    \29\ Convicted USS Cole bomber Jamal al-Badawi, for example, was 
arrested and convicted on terrorism charges related to the attack, and 
sentenced to 15 years in prison. He escaped twice, allegedly with the 
help of Yemeni security officials, surrendered twice, and then given 
conditional release. Despite protestations from the United States, the 
Yemeni government has refused to extradite Badawi to stand trial. He is 
currently free in Yemen.
    Weapons and explosives from Yemen, where gunrunners operate 
with impunity, often find their way to Somalia and have been 
traced to attacks in Saudi Arabia, including explosives 
employed in a Riyadh bombing and assault rifles used in an 
attack on the U.S. consulate in Jeddah. More recently, a Saudi 
national who had been living in Yemen, attempted to assassinate 
Prince Muhammad bin Nayif Al Saud, the Saudi Deputy Interior 
Minister and Director of Counter-terrorism, by detonating a 
bomb concealed in his undergarments. The device was similar to 
the bomb used by Omar Faruq Abdulmutallab in his attempt to 
blow up a Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas Day.\30\ U.S. 
law enforcement officials said both men received their training 
in Yemen.
    \30\ On August 27, 2009, AQAP operative Abdallah Hassan al-Asiri, 
pretending to surrender to Saudi authorities, detonated a bomb hidden 
in his undergarments and made of pentaerythritol tetranitrate, or PETN, 
while in the presence or Prince Muhammad bin Nayif. Asiri spent weeks 
negotiating his false surrender and was invited, as other penitent ex-
militants, to meet the prince during a Ramadan fast-breaking event. He 
bypassed some airport inspections because he was flown from southern 
Saudi Arabia on the princes own jet and was not required to change 
clothes nor thoroughly searched before he met the prince. US officials 
meanwhile said that Omar Faruq Abdalmutallab also tried to detonate a 
PETN bomb sewn under his undergarments. Abdulmutallab told US law 
enforcement authorities that he obtained the materials in Yemen.
    The U.S. government is aware of Yemen's needs, both in 
counter-terrorism and in economic security. The Obama 
administration requested-and Congress authorized-more than $50 
million in economic and military aid, $35 million in 
development assistance, $12.5 million in foreign military 
financing, and $5 million in economic support funds. This 
represents an increase of more than 200 percent.

                  3. Somalia: Failure Breeds Extremism

    Al Qaeda's tentacles reach deeply into Somalia and 
conditions similar to those in Yemen make it possible for the 
organization to extend its influence in the archetype of a 
failed state just across the Gulf of Aden from Arabian 
Peninsula. The threat from Al Qaeda and from its Somali 
affiliate, al-Shabab, is increasing. The administration has 
worked with the Somali president, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, 
and Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton praised him last 
summer as the ``best hope'' for his country in many years. The 
Obama administration has decided to bolster Sharif's embattled 
government by providing money for weapons and helping the 
military in neighboring Djibouti train Somali troops. Counter-
terrorism may be our primary reason for increasing cooperation 
with Somalia, but the engagement must reach beyond those narrow 
goals in order to control the spread of Al Qaeda and its 
message. As Senator Russ Feingold told the Senate last August, 
U.S. policy should be rooted in a ``serious, high-level 
commitment to a sustainable and inclusive peace.''
    U.S. diplomats, law enforcement officers and intelligence 
officials in the region said that a key concern is Somalia's 
open, virtually defenseless border with Djibouti. The only 
official border crossing is at the village of Loyada, a dusty 
and impoverished outpost in the desert, where as many as 200 
refugees per day arrive from Somalia and Ethiopia, most on 
their way to Yemen and the Gulf. The United Nations High 
Commissioner for Refugees office in Djibouti reports that there 
are 10,000 Somali refugees there, with another 80-100 
additional refugees processed every week. The Djiboutian 
government refuses to allow single men from Somalia into the 
country, fearing infiltration by al-Shabab or Al Qaeda.
    The United States has provided Djibouti with technical 
assistance to help improve the Loyada crossing, but authorities 
said more money is needed to secure the facility and to improve 
security at other crossings farther out into the desert. The 
border is utterly porous and easily breached, and Djibouti 
needs cameras and radar for the Coast Guard, as Loyada sits 
only a kilometer inland from the Red Sea. Djiboutian officials 
told Committee staff that their government has no resources to 
patrol either the land or sea border, even though at low tide 
refugees can easily walk through the salt marsh undetected.
    Furthermore, U.S. diplomats say that a coherent system is 
needed to share information on the movement of dangerous people 
across the border. A Committee staff member watched at least 50 
people cross the border on a recent visit to Loyada, only about 
a third of whom had a passport or any other documentation. A 
man with an Iraqi passport was turned back by a Djiboutian 
immigration official who said that no Iraqi national had any 
reason to be in the area in the first place. The Djiboutian 
immigration official told a Committee staff member that he had 
recently turned away two Somali-Americans with U.S. passports, 
fearing that they were al-Shabab. He added that the pair could 
easily have walked a kilometer or two into the desert and 
crossed into Djibouti without being detected, as many people 
    Americans attempting to cross from Somalia into Djibouti 
apparently is not unusual. The official told Committee staff 
that a significant number of Western passport holders, 
including Americans, have tried to cross illegally between 
Djibouti and Somalia in the past year. Recently, two Somali-
Americans were arrested while trying to transit Djibouti on 
their way to Somalia for what the immigration official said was 
terrorist training. Both were prosecuted and jailed in Djibouti 
for illegal entry. U.S. officials add that Somali-Americans are 
taught techniques for avoiding detection by the FBI once they 
make their way to al-Shabab training camps.
    Officials in the region said that one of their major 
worries is that Al Qaeda is trying to take advantage of its 
Somali-American recruits by establishing a larger presence in 
Somalia and plotting attacks on the United States or American 
targets. Bronwyn Bruton, a Somalia expert at the Council on 
Foreign Relations (CFR), underscored those worries recently in 
Foreign Affairs, writing that ``one of Washington's primary 
concerns about Somalia is that Al Qaeda may be trying to 
develop a base in the country from which to launch attacks 
against Western interests. Counter-terrorism officials also 
worry that more alienated members of the Somali diaspora might 
embrace terrorism. Somali-Americans were arrested in Minnesota 
in early 2009 after returning from fighting alongside al-
Shabab, an extremist group associated with Al Qaeda, and in 
late August 2009, several Somalis were arrested in Melbourne 
for planning a major suicide attack on an Australian army 
installation.'' \31\
    \31\ ``In the Quicksands of Somalia: Where Doing Less Helps More,'' 
by Bronwyn Bruton, Foreign Affairs, November/December 2009, pages 79-
    U.S. intelligence analysts have argued since the mid-1990s 
that Somalia is fundamentally inhospitable to foreign jihadist 
groups. Al Qaeda is now a more sophisticated and dangerous 
organization in Africa, but its foothold in Somalia has 
probably been facilitated by the involvement of Western powers 
and their allies. In fact, according to Bruton, the terrorist 
threat posed by Somalia has grown in proportion to the 
intrusiveness of international policies toward the country.\32\ 
Al-Shabab originally emerged as a wing of militant youths 
within the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), the group that 
controlled much of Somalia prior to the country's December 2006 
occupation by Ethiopian forces in cooperation with Somalia's 
Transitional Federal Government (TFG), which was struggling 
with the ICU for power.
    \32\ Ibid.
    In the mid-1990s, Islamic courts began to emerge around the 
country, especially in the capital of Mogadishu. The absence of 
central authority in Somalia created an environment conducive 
to the proliferation of armed factions and a safe haven for 
terrorist groups. The three terrorists suspected of the 1998 
attacks against the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and 
the 2002 attacks in Mombasa, Kenya, used Somalia to recruit, 
train, hide, and smuggle weapons.
    CFR's Bruton states that Ethiopia's occupation of Somalia, 
which was meant to oust the ICU, had a dangerous, albeit 
unintended consequence. ``By then, the ICU had exhausted most 
Somalis' patience, and it dissolved, its leaders scattering in 
southern Somalia or fleeing to Eritrea. Ethiopia was forced to 
occupy Mogadishu to prop up the .TFG, and its presence ignited 
a complex insurgency.'' \33\ The U.S.-backed occupation also 
fueled anti-Americanism in the country.\34\ Bruton continues 
that ``Responding to these developments, jihadists from the 
Middle East and as far away as Malaysia arrived to help al-
Shabab. They brought with them suicide bombings and 
sophisticated tactics such as remote-controlled detonations. By 
the time Ethiopian forces withdrew in early 2009, al-Shabab's 
influence had spread.
    \33\ Ibid.
    \34\ Statement of Ken Menkhaus, ``Developing a Coordinated and 
Sustainable U.S. Strategy Toward Somalia,'' before the Subcommittee on 
African Affairs of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, May 20, 
Alliance or Not, a Specific Threat to Americans Exists
    Only two of al-Shabab's leaders have pledged fidelity to 
Osama bin Laden, but some young Al Qaeda fighters who trained 
in Afghanistan have moved to southern Somalia to train Somalis 
in al-Shabab camps there. In return, al-Shabab has provided 
these Al Qaeda trainers with bodyguards, according to Ethiopian 
government officials.
    Estimates of the number of Al Qaeda fighters in Somalia by 
American and African officials vary widely, from a low of 20 to 
a high of 300. African officials told the Committee staff that 
there has been a marked change in al-Shabab's tactics over the 
past five years, as the Somalis have adopted Al Qaeda's more 
lethal strategies.
    Al-Shabab and Al Qaeda appear to be cooperating closely in 
their administration of the training camps in southern Somalia, 
notes CFR's Bruton. ``Some of these are reserved for imparting 
basic ideological precepts and infantry skills to newly 
enlisted Somali militia members, while others provide more 
advanced training in guerilla warfare, explosives, and 
assassination. The latter camps have become a magnet for 
foreign fighters coming from the Somali diaspora, other African 
countries, or the Middle East.'' \35\
    \35\ ``Peacebuilding Amid Terrorism: Fragile Gains in Somalia,'' by 
Andre Le Sage, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 
Policywatch #1594, October 27, 2009.
    Michael Leiter of the National Counterterrorism Center 
argues that al-Shabab's training camps are solely Somalia-
focused, and that the group does not have goals beyond 
Somalia's borders.\36\ Al-Shabab certainly has launched 
terrorist attacks, but only against domestic opponents in the 
Somaliland and Puntland regions of Somalia. The Somali-American 
suicide bomber attacked a Somali opponent of al-Shabab, rather 
than western interests in Somalia. U.S. law enforcement 
officials contend, however, that al-Shabab would hit US or 
other Western targets outside of Somalia if it could.
    \36\ ``U.S. Mulls Striking Somali Terrorist Training Camps,'' 
Comments by Michael Leiter, National Public Radio, Morning Edition, 
April 20, 2009.
    Leiter recently told Congress that al-Shabab has sent 
dozens of Somali Americans and American Muslims through 
training conducted by Al Qaeda. At least seven already have 
been killed in fighting in Somalia.\37\ Last summer, Al-Shabab 
released a video pledging cooperation with Al Qaeda. The video 
used an American spokesman and showed footage of a training 
camp featuring a former University of South Alabama student.
    \37\ ``The Threat from Somalia,'' The Washington Post, November 2, 
    Western diplomats also expressed concern about a possible 
rise in violence against U.S. and other Western interests in 
Sweden because of that country's growing Somali population. 
Sweden accepts 1,000 Somali refugees per month, according to 
western diplomats, and nearly all of those refugees at least 
initially settle in Gothenburg, Sweden's second largest city. 
The diplomats reported that pro-al-Shabab refugees in 2009 
drove moderates out of the city's largest mosque and took 
control of its administration. Law enforcement officials 
believe that the pro-al-Shabab refugees are heavily involved in 
recruiting for the group, and they are encouraging new recruits 
to return to Somalia for training. These same officials 
estimate that there are currently 40 Swedish citizens in al-
Shabab in Somalia.
State Failure Offers Further Opportunities for Terrorists
    One of Somalia's most serious problems is the lack of all 
but rudimentary government and civil society. As a result, even 
basic services like education are not available for many 
Somalis. Consequently, many parents send their children to 
Islamic schools or mosques for their education. But madrassas 
and mosques offer a very limited curriculum, and they tend to 
be fundamentalist in nature because they are financed by al-
Shabab and the Saudi government. Djiboutian authorities 
complained that while most Gulf States build schools and 
hospitals in east Africa and send food and medicine to the 
region, the Saudi government builds mosques and sends Qurans.
    Analysts point out that in many areas al-Shabab is the only 
organization that can provide basic social services, such as 
rudimentary medical facilities, food distribution centers, and 
a basic justice system rooted in Islamic law. Western diplomats 
fear that al-Shabab will continue to win converts by providing 
services similar to the way Hamas found success in the Gaza 
    Experts strongly caution that there is little the United 
States can do to weaken al-Shabab. The United States has 
launched air strikes to target high-level members of al-Shabab 
it believes have links to Al Qaeda. But experts say these air 
strikes have only increased popular support for al-Shabab. In 
fact, they argue that two of the only actions that could 
galvanize al-Shabab and increase its support within Somalia are 
additional air strikes by the United States, or a return of 
Ethiopian troops.\38\
    \38\ ``Al-Shabab,'' by Stephanie Hanson, Council on Foreign 
Relations Backgrounder, February 27, 2009.

                             4. Conclusion

    Terrorism is a tactic that can be defeated, but doing so 
represents a challenge of extraordinary proportions and a 
commitment to progress that will sometimes be slow. There are 
several steps that the United States can take, internally and 
in concert with foreign governments, to make terrorist 
operations more difficult, particularly in places like Yemen 
and Somalia, where the threat appears to be growing.
    First, U.S. law enforcement, intelligence, and diplomatic 
officials must cooperate closely to discern the terrorist 
threat, including that posed by Americans, and to address that 
threat. Information sharing is the most important component of 
this cooperation. The failed Christmas Day bomb plot 
demonstrated what can happen when U.S. government agencies fail 
to act on or disseminate information quickly and efficiently.
    Second, U.S. government cooperation with foreign partners 
must be redoubled across the counter-terrorism spectrum: 
Information-sharing, counter-terrorism and law enforcement 
training, and border control are all areas where allies will 
benefit from cooperation. Foreign partners are often the first 
line of defense: Djiboutian border patrol agents turn away 
suspect immigrants, Yemeni police raid an Al Qaeda safe house, 
or an alert immigration officer stops a suspicious traveler at 
an airport in Europe. But as the Christmas Day bombing attempt 
proved, one breakdown in the system can be disastrous.
    Finally, a viable counter-terrorism strategy must take into 
account the fact that terrorism is not created in a vacuum, and 
its causes must be addressed. The U.S. government must engage 
foreign partners on issues such as literacy, high birth rates, 
economic development, and human rights. All countries concerned 
must understand the dangers of attempting to solve the complex 
problem of terrorism through a one-dimensional military 
approach. The solution also lies in steady progress toward 
helping governments in conflict zones like Yemen and Somalia 
provide a sense of hope and a plausible vision of the future 
for their people.

        No Direct Connection Between al-Shabab and Somali Pirates

     Western diplomats and military officials agree that currently there
 is no direct connection between al-Shabab and Somali pirates, due
 primarily to clan and tribal differences. The pirates hail almost
 exclusively from Somalia's Majourteen clan, Issa Musa subclan, which
 are based in Puntland and Somaliland, in the central and northern parts
  of the country. Al-Shabab, however, is made up of Somalis of various
 clans from Mogadishu and southern Somalia that are not related to the
 Majourteen. Ethiopian academics describe al-Shabab as ``an
 opportunistic organization. Shabab speaks to southern Somalis by using
 nationalist rhetoric and money.'' Most of the raiders and their backers
 on land are involved in piracy solely for the money. Al-Shabab, on the
 other hand, is ``not as xenophobic as the northerners. They welcome
 foreign fighters, who they call `Muslims.' They don't make any
 differentiation by nationality. Al-Shabab doesn't even have its own
     There is, however, an indirect connection. In the past year, the
 pirates have begun operating out  of southern ports controlled by al-
 Shabab. This  is a new development in 2009, according to U.S.
 diplomats. Pirates simply pay a ``user fee'' to  al-Shabab for use of
 the ports.