The jihadist group Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, or IS) is gaining ground in Yemen where al-Qaeda and Houthi rebels are already causing havoc.
The Islamic State has infiltrated at least three provinces in southern and central Yemen, a Yemeni official told CNN. Currently, there is reportedly a “real competition” between ISIS and the al-Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate–al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). CNN noted that it could not independently confirm the claims of the Yemeni official.
“American officials do think ISIS is trying to recruit in Yemen. But one U.S. counter-terror official stressed the view that AQAP remains the dominant force there,” reported CNN.
“The American intelligence view is that while there may be a smattering of ISIS loyalists among Sunni extremists in Yemen,” added the article, “they are likely ‘mid-level AQAP militants who are sympathetic to ISIL’s vision but haven’t broken ranks.’”
Although ISIS is recruiting in Yemen, AQAP remains the dominant force, the Yemeni official told CNN.
The news that ISIS has infiltrated Yemen comes as the country’s capital is gripped by violence. In Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, U.S.-backed Yemeni security forces are battling Shiite Houthi rebels who are taking control of government facilities.
AQAP’s “main activities these days are targeted assassinations of Houthis and Yemeni government and military officials,” the Yemeni official told CNN.
“But officials and analysts worry AQAP and ISIS competition in Yemen could create a dynamic wherein the groups compete to strike the U.S. first and hardest,” noted CNN.