The Last Refuge: Yemen, al-Qaeda, and America's War in Arabia
Gregory D. Johnsen
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
“The best new book on al Qaeda . . . and the best book on Yemen in years.”—Bruce Riedel, Daily Beast
Far from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States and al-Qaeda are fighting a clandestine war of drones and suicide bombers in an unforgiving corner of Arabia.
The Last Refuge charts the rise, fall, and resurrection of al-Qaeda in Yemen over the last thirty years, detailing how a group that the United States once defeated has now become one of the world’s most dangerous threats. An expert on Yemen who has spent years on the ground there, Gregory D. Johnsen uses al-Qaeda’s Arabic battle notes to reconstruct their world as they take aim at the United States and its allies. Johnsen brings readers in-side al-Qaeda’s training camps and safe houses as the terrorists plot poison attacks and debate how to bring down an airliner on Christmas Day. The Last Refuge is an eye-opening look at the successes and failures of fighting a new type of war in one of the most turbulent countries in the world.
Yemenis—with a single video. Even the way they released the information was calculated to maximize its impact. First a teaser: a press statement posted on jihadi Web forums in the days leading up to the inauguration; and then, only after Obama was sworn in, the finished product. THE NINETEEN-MINUTE video confirmed the worst fears of the US: someone who had once been in custody was now free and threatening to kill Americans. Said al-Shihri, a former Guantánamo Bay detainee from Saudi Arabia whom
of the Prophet that suggested non-Muslims shouldn’t be allowed to set foot on the Arabian peninsula. Qusa wasn’t the only one the FBI made uncomfortable. Not knowing how much time they had with the prisoner, the Americans’ interrogation was blunt and to the point. They wanted to know what ties, if any, existed between officials in the Yemeni military and the bombers. The agents zeroed in on Ali Muhsin al-Ahmar, a fellow tribesman of President Salih and the head of the First Armored Division, who
turned on the Arabs in an effort to drive them out of the mountains. Through it all bin Laden stayed on the move, changing his position every few hours, but late in the afternoon of December 10 the Delta team thought they had a real-time read on him a little over a mile away. Fury sat on the information for a few minutes, silently wrestling with the decision. Hazarat Ali had already retreated for the evening and Fury was under direct orders not to take the lead in the fighting. The American
problems and medical bills. Others he convinced with tales of a family crisis. But the FBI agents, who benefited from the information he supplied, formed a much different picture of the man one Yemeni colleague described as “untrustworthy.” With the exception of Ali Soufan and a handful of others, few of the agents knew anything about counterterrorism. In this confusing new world of radical jihad, Ansi became their guide. After the meeting in December 2001, when Ansi told agents that the shaykh
Saudi Arabia, their loved ones had not. Bin Nayif had looked after them, but he could have just as easily imprisoned them. Eventually, as the pleasantries trailed off, bin Nayif asked the youngster what he wanted. “I want to meet with you,” Abdullah said, adding that some of the Saudis were afraid and wanted to hear from bin Nayif himself that they wouldn’t be jailed if they came home. “Can you send a plane?” Abdullah asked. “If I talk to them in your presence then, by the power of God, they