Last month, while the world was busy watching ISIS advance to the Syrian city of Kobani, Houthi rebels seized control of Yemeni capital Sana’a. The Houthis are a religious Zaidi Shia movement with an armed wing, similar to the Sadr movement in Iraq and Hezbollah in Lebanon. As the rebels continued their advance, 250 people were killed last weekend in clashes between the rebels and a tribe allied with al-Qaeda. Experts say the Houthi advance into Sana’a and beyond is a further sign Yemen is descending into a sectarian civil war that will only add to the instability in the Middle East — and could ultimately provide a stronger base for al-Qaeda and ISIS, as well as a common enemy that may bring those two terror groups together.
“All the ingredients for a civil war in Yemen are amassed and merging: a fragile government, a divided society, regional rivalry, a history of violence, etc. Furthermore, the Houthi rebels in recent weeks extended their control of areas that are far from their popular base,” said Massaab Al-Aloosy, a Middle Eastern Affairs analyst and former researcher at the World Peace Foundation in Massachusetts. The developments in Yemen echo Iraq in 2006 and 2014 and Syria in 2012, where the Sunni population felt threatened by dominant Shiite militias, creating a receptive hub for the terror groups. Al-Qaeda in Yemen — now called al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) after merging with al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia — is already considered the most dangerous terrorist organization to the U.S. The last several attempts to attack the U.S. were conducted by its operatives, or by people who were inspired by its leaders. The U.S. has waged a decade-long drone war in Yemen, but a civil war in the country could raise the risks to the U.S. homeland.
Read more: The Fiscal Times
The Austrian state prosecutor's office says a 14-year-old boy has been arrested on suspicion of planning to place a bomb in a busy Viennese train station and could be charged with belonging to a terrorist organization. A spokeswoman of the state prosecutor's office, Michaela Obenaus, on Wednesday identified the suspect only as an Austrian citizen with Turkish roots who has lived for eight years in Austria. Obenaus said the juvenile told police that he wants to fight on the side of Islamic extremists, had researched building a bomb on the internet and had mentioned Vienna's downtown Westbahnhof rail station as a possible target. She said he was arrested Tuesday in the city of St. Poelten, west of Vienna.
Al-Qaida is using U.S.-led coalition airstrikes in Syria as a reason to extend olive branches to the renegade Islamic State group, saying the two should stop feuding and join forces to attack Western targets - a reunification that intelligence analysts say would allow al-Qaida to capitalize on the younger group's ruthless advance across the region.
Analysts are closely watching al-Qaida's repeated overtures, and while a full reconciliation is not expected soon - if ever - there is evidence the two groups have curtailed their infighting and are cooperating on the Syrian battlefield, according to activists on the ground, U.S. officials and experts who monitor jihadi messages.
The Islamic State group has seized about a third of Iraq and Syrian territory and is terrorizing civilians to impose a strict interpretation of Islamic law.
Read more: AP