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January 6 Papers: Jihadi tensions

One of the regular features of the old Waq al-waq was the day in papers, and as I slowly adjust to the new site I’m bringing it back.

We start today in the south, where News Yemen is reporting that in Ja’ar two jihadi factions came to blows, leading to the death of one fighter. (Ar)  The details, as you would expect from a story coming out of Abyan, are a bit sketchy.   But it shows once again, that not everyone in the jihadi universe has the same idea on what they should be doing.

Keeping with the Jihadi theme, Saudi television aired another segment in the Jabar al-Fayfi confessions two nights ago. (Ar)  This one focused on his time in Saudi Arabia after he was released from Guantanamo and how he rejoined al-Qaeda.  Two previous segments talked about his time fighting in Afghanistan – he has some fascinating things to say on the battle of Tora Bora – as well as on his experience in Guantanamo.

According to al-Fayfi, he was recruited to rejoin al-Qaeda at a banquet hosted by Muhammad al-Awfi and Said al-Shihri.  All three of these men spent time in Guantanamo, and al-Fayfi suggests that these bonds formed in that prison have been lasting.  (Hopefully these prison house stories will be the topic of another post in the days to come.)

He also says that the defection – that is what he is calling it, and we shouldn’t expect anything different since he is in Saudi custody – of Muhammad al-Awfi shook AQAP significantly, worrying the leaders and leading to a situation where they kept much closer tabs on al-Fayfi.  The former Guantanamo prisoner is also the first one I have seen question the idea of giving an oath of allegiance to Nasir al-Wihayshi. 

Finally, al-Fayfi gives some insight into what happened back in September and October when AQAP was putting together the parcel bomb plot.  As Bruce Riedel suggests in this piece, the story has been that al-Fayfi tipped off Saudi investigators who then told the US.  Parts of this are plausible, but as I’ve discussed before, the timeline doesn’t make any sense. 

Also, in this latest confession, al-Fayfi is clear that he didn’t want to carry out attacks in Saudi Arabia, but rather that he wanted to strike the US – interesting distinction if actually true.  So, if that is the case, why would he tip off the Saudis about a plot aimed at the US?

Finally, for those with a love of Yemen’s opaque tribal politics, we have this story about members of the ‘Ans tribe kidnapping three individuals from Yaf’a in response to the killing of a fellow tribesman days earlier. 

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