A troubling video recently released by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula depicts a large crowd of militants in Yemen — including al-Qaida’s second in command, Nasir al-Wuhayshi — chanting and firing rifles into the air, ostensibly unprotected and unafraid.
“We must eliminate the cross,” Wuhayshi said, adding, “the bearer of the cross is America.”
Open demonstrations of force like this are “atypical,” according to one U.S. intelligence official.
It’s a rare, disconcerting reminder that al-Qaida remains virulent and strong — especially in Yemen. This is one of many reasons why the American drone campaign in Yemen is necessary.
Although civilian deaths caused by drones have led to resistance in Yemen, the United States has explicit authorization from Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi to continue the strikes.
Yemenis aren’t sanguine about al-Qaida’s pernicious influence in their country. An attack on the Defense Ministry in Sanaa on Dec. 5 left 56 people dead. The U.S. has seen success in Yemen, too, such as the assassination of U.S.-born cleric and al-Qaida commander Anwar al-Awlaki.
Al-Qaida has attempted two attacks on the U.S. since Sept. 11, 2001, both of which originated in Yemen.
This threat isn’t going away, nor should the resistance to it.