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May 30th, 2012
11:20 AM ET

Reporter Ghaith Abdul-Ahad goes undercover in Yemen to illuminate 'new phase of Al Qaeda'

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Ghaith Abdul-Ahad was an Israeli reporter, when in fact he is a native Iraqi. Apologies to Mr. Abdul-Ahad.

Iraqi reporter Ghaith Abdul-Ahad traveled to Yemen to discover the Al Qaeda base firsthand and offers Soledad O'Brien a chilling glance into the terrorist regime on "Starting Point" this morning.

Al Qaeda has previously found strength in its guerilla tactics and unorganized domain, but Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is a cohesive unit, well-known for terrorist acts such as the bombing of the USS Cole, the unsuccessful underwear bomber, and the 2010 cargo plane bomb plot. It's a move for independence, Abdul-Ahad says, and a move for the group to control their own state.

"This is the new phase of Al Qaeda," says Abdul-Ahad. "It's post-Osama Bin Laden, post-Pakistan, post-Afghanistan."

The documentary focuses on three cities in Yemen that have been overtaken and cultivated by Al-Qaeda, and the differences between the three show the diversity in the group's reign.

Abdul-Ahad says Jaar, for the most part, is life as usual - except the court systems and police force are completely run by Al Qaeda. Azzan, a mountain-town, is what he calls the "citadel" of Al Qaeda: isolated and confident. But the city of Lawder fights constantly to fend off the Al Qaeda rule.

"Al-Qaeda can take over a town, can take over a part of a population, but when the population turns against Al Qaeda, this is the end of Al Qaeda," Abdul-Ahad says.

The full half-hour PBS Frontline special "Al Quaeda in Yemen" aired last night and can be viewed on PBS.org.


Filed under: Al Qaeda • Terrorism
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