Drone Attacks in Yemen Reportedly Drive Recruits to al-Qaeda

US drone strikes in Yemen over the past few years have not weakened al Qaeda forces in Yemen, says Guardian reporter Ghaith Abdul-Ahad. He's just back from visiting al Qaeda in southern Yemen, and says since his last visit two years ago the fighters of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) have descended from their mountain strongholds, and established a firmer foothold in coastal areas.

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Abdul-Ahad says AQAP operatives are trying "to show themselves in a more sophisticated light than the jihadis in Iraq or Afghanistan." Abdul-Ahad says, for example, al Qaeda checkpoints in Yemen do not menace civilians.

He says in Afghanistan, "when you see the (al Qaeda) black flag (in other countries), this is a sign of death for you as a journalist. This is 'end of the game.' Yet there (in Yemen) , they don't stop you and they don't take bribes," Abdul-Ahad says. "They're trying to give this feel that we're different than in the days of Iraq and Afghanistan."

He adds that in the middle of chaos, "al Queda has found a footstep and from there they
emerge as a major player in the south of Yemen."