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WASHINGTON – With al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula becoming the dominant franchise of that terrorist group worldwide, its operations appear to be shifting increasingly to Yemen, causing near-panic in neighboring Saudi Arabia, where the United States is rushing to resume counter-terrorism training, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

This apparent shift in the al-Qaida power center to Yemen from Pakistan is due to more favorable conditions in Yemen, greater ability to conduct operations, the ability to control vast areas of territory and strong local support from its population.

AQAP’s leadership also is looked on as very intelligent, with a large number of skilled fighters.

In becoming the new power base, AQAP is looking to take over where al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden left off, but with a renewed effort to develop new, creative bombs and wage a more aggressive jihad against the West, especially the United States.

Yemeni al-Qaida operatives recently have been instrumental in renewing airline bombing attempts.

The instability over the past year in Yemen only helped AQAP gain ground, gather more supporters and to take over areas which it now controls.

All of this has happened despite the U.S. drone program aimed at hitting some of the AQAP’s top leadership, such as the U.S. citizen al-Qaida militant Anwar al-Awlaki.

Analysts say those attacks are most likely not only to continue but to increase in intensity. The problem, analysts say, is the increasing prospect of so-called collateral damage from increasing the drone attacks.

In Pakistan, this development had the effect of not only turning the population against the United States but it prompted Pakistanis to join the Taliban and al-Qaida.

The Saudis, who have moved some military troops into neighboring Yemen, are to continue providing intelligence.

AQAP has vowed to eliminate the Saudi royal family. The fractured government in Yemen, given its social, economic and political upheaval, is not seen as able to eliminate the AQAP threat, at least not in the near term.

Analysts say that AQAP strategy is expected to continue targeting the U.S., especially with suicide bombers on aircraft flying into the U.S. AQAP thinking is to drive up security costs at airports and cause further economic harm during this period of economic downturn.

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