Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is robbing whatever they can—banks, post offices, and exchange houses in a desperate bid to keep the money flowing for their arms and operations, according to Yemeni sources.
Traditionally, robberies are a hallmark of poorly funded terrorist groups that are unable to obtain financial support from more legitimate channels such as contributions from sponsors. It is possible that as Iraq and Syria have become the target for wealthy Gulf donors, other fronts of the global jihad aren’t receiving the same level of sponsorship that they received a few years ago.
AQAP loots Yemeni citizens’ livelihood to fund its crimes
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has resorted to robbing banks and government facilities to finance its activities, researchers told Al-Shorfa.
In mid-October, AQAP stormed al-Udayn Post Office in Ibb province, stealing 30 million riyals ($140,000), the official news agency Saba reported.
In August, AQAP gunmen stormed the town of al-Qatn in Wadi Hadramaut and robbed a number of local banks and exchange companies, including the Agricultural Credit Bank and a branch of the National Bank, according to news reports.
AQAP is currently suffering from a shortage of funding, which it needs to cover the cost of its crimes and for weapons and explosives, said Saeed al-Jamhi, a researcher specialising in Islamist groups.
This is why the group has resorted to burglary, looting, bank robbery and plundering, despite the fact that Islam forbids such practices, he told Al-Shorfa.
“Extremism has many facets, including unlawfully shedding the blood of others — the most grievous crime,” al-Jamhi said. “Deeming the money of Muslims as permissible [to steal] is another aspect of extremism.”
AQAP resorts to misinterpreting and misrepresenting religious and jurisprudential texts, distorting their words or not interpreting their true meaning, he said, adding, “The sanctity of human life is greater than the sanctity of money, and whoever deems it permissible to take a human life has no qualms about seizing the money of others”.
“Al-Qaeda’s practices, including the heinous killings of innocent civilians, and its bank robberies and looting of state funds by plundering post offices, are unacceptable under Islamic sharia law,” al-Jamhi said.
“These acts have given the world a distorted picture of Islam and brought harm to Muslims,” he added.
Al-Qaeda ‘sheds innocent blood’
Fares al-Saqqaf, strategy advisor to the Yemeni president, told Al-Shorfa that AQAP’s bloodshed and looting indicates it is “in a state of great weakness and disarray”.
The group “is in an obvious state of weakness due to the war waged against it and the siege laid on it both domestically and abroad in the context of the war on terrorism, as represented by the military campaign battling it locally, the army’s pursuit of its gunmen and the blocking of its funding sources”, he said…