Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Al Qaeda Tries a New Tactic to Keep Power: Sharing It

By BEN HUBBARD, NYT
JUNE 9, 2015

BEIRUT, Lebanon — After they routed the army in southern Yemen, fighters from Al Qaeda stormed into the city of Al Mukalla, seizing government buildings, releasing jihadists from prison and stealing millions of dollars from the central bank.

Then they surprised everyone. Instead of raising their flags and imposing Islamic law, they passed control to a civilian council and gave it a budget to pay salaries, import fuel and hire teams to clean up garbage. The fighters receded into the background, maintaining only a single police station to arbitrate disputes.

Al Qaeda’s takeover of Yemen’s fifth-largest city in April was the most direct indication yet that the group’s most potent regional affiliates are evolving after years of American drone strikes killing their leaders and changing to meet the challenge posed by the Islamic State’s competing and land-grabbing model of jihad.

While the image of Al Qaeda has long been one of shadowy operatives plotting international attacks from remote hide-outs, its branches in Yemen and Syria are now increasingly making common cause with local groups on the battlefield.

(More here.)

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