Yemen and Somalia

One of the issues I have been getting a number of questions on lately is the links (imagined and otherwise) between AQAP and al-Shabab in Somalia. This NPR story, for instance, claims that the latest two suicide bombers had links to Somalia. This is just not true. Or at least there is no evidence to support this. Certainly the Yemeni government played up the possibility that the first suicide bomber, al-'Ujayri, may have been trained in Somalia, but this is a classic government defense: blame an outside country so it doesn't look as if Yemen has a problem. That ship, however, has sailed long ago.

The only real evidence that exists as to links between the two are individuals. Mansur al-Bayhani, who escaped from prison along with al-Wahayshi and al-Raymi, and was then killed in Somalia in June 2007 and Ibrahim al-Muqri, who also escaped in the same prison break, and was later arrested in Kenya on his way in or out of the country. Al-Muqri was subsequently returned to Yemen and then released earlier this year when the Yemeni government released 112 different individuals.

Beyond that, AQAP has made frequent mentions and devoted articles to fighting and aiding the fight in Somalia, but there has not been, to my knowledge, any evidence of cooperation between the two groups - and to suggest otherwise, I think, clouds an already murky picture and leads to decisions that often should have been more considered. When one is making decisions about possibly attacking targets in Somalia, as the NPR story suggests, I would think it would be helpful to base that decision on solid evidence rather than self-serving allegations, rumors and conjecture.

This is not to say that AQAP doesn't want connections in Somalia or isn't looking to expand in an effort to become an even bigger regional franchise, I just don't think they have made it yet, and I don't think the evidence supports either the fact that the suicide bombers trained in Somalia or that there are any concrete links between the two organizations.

NYTimes exposé reveals how Facebook handled scandals

Delay, deny and deflect were the strategies Facebook has used to navigate scandals it's faced in recent years, according to the New York Times.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • The exhaustive report is based on interviews with more than 50 people with ties to the company.
  • It outlines how senior executives misled the public and lawmakers in regards to what it had discovered about privacy breaches and Russian interference in U.S. politics.
  • On Thursday, Facebook cut ties with one of the companies, Definers Public Relations, listed in the report.
Keep reading Show less

Russian reporters discover 101 'tortured' whales jammed in offshore pens

Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.

(VL.ru)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Russian news network discovers 101 black-market whales.
  • Orcas and belugas are seen crammed into tiny pens.
  • Marine parks continue to create a high-price demand for illegal captures.
Keep reading Show less

Unraveling the mystery behind dogs' floppy ears

Dogs' floppy ears may be part of why they and other domesticated animals love humans so much.

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash
Surprising Science
  • Nearly all domestic animals share several key traits in addition to friendliness to humans, traits such as floppy ears, a spotted coat, a shorter snout, and so on.
  • Researchers have been puzzled as to why these traits keep showing up in disparate species, even when they aren't being bred for those qualities. This is known as "domestication syndrome."
  • Now, researchers are pointing to a group of a cells called neural crest cells as the key to understanding domestication syndrome.
Keep reading Show less