The Yemen-based arm of al-Qaeda — flush with millions in ill-gotten gains — is gaining strength from the fractured nation's civil conflict and is sufficiently funded to carry out new terror attacks, according to a new report.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the terror cell behind Paris' Charlie Hebdo massacre in 2015 and a descendant of the group behind the 2000 bombing of the U.S.S. Cole, earns tens of millions of dollars per year and remains "well funded," according to a study by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. The group derives its financing from various sources — including taxation, looting, ransoms and oil and gas sales, according to the FDD's analysis.
Yemen is the battleground for a fierce proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, with both countries arming opposite sides in a civil conflict. The country sits atop billions of barrels in proven oil reserves, a lucrative source of cash that has become a fulcrum in the tug-of-war between warring Sunni and Shia factions.