ISIS & Al Qaeda Team up for Pincer Movement Vs Saudis

Western military and intelligence sources recently warned Washington that ISIS and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) are teaming up for the first time for simultaneous attacks on Saudi Arabia from two different directions: Iraq and Yemen. (See map). Their offensive will take advantage of the current US focus on fighting ISIS in Iraq and, to a lesser extent, Syria.
This switch in Islamic State strategy is signaled to DEBKA Weekly’s military and counterterrorism sources by three new developments:
1. In contrast to the Tikrit, Baiji and Sinjar fronts in Iraq, where ISIS went underground rather than fight head-on, the jihadists are resolved to make a stand in Ramadi (see separate item) and prolong the fighting.
2. An ISIS suicide bomber killed at least six Saudi soldiers on Dec. 12 at the Hafr Zawiyah border post between Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Clad in an Iraqi military uniform, he drove an explosives-packed vehicle into the center of the border post, where he blew himself up in order to cause maximum Saudi army casualties.
3. An ISIS operational delegation secretly visited AQAP headquarters in Mukalla, capital of Yemen’s Hadramauth province, in early December, to discuss a joint campaign against Saudi targets.
They saw their chance from the Saudi-led coalition’s decision to refrain from attacking AQAP, believing the jihadist group to be a secret ally in its war on the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.
Our intelligence sources report that President Barack Obama was warned of an order issue by the Saudi Defense Minister Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to hold off air strikes and not to halt the AQAP advance toward Aden, while grabbing territory from the Houthis on the way.
Riyadh stuck to this tactic, even after AQAP declared in a Twitter posting on Dec. 1. “We will not enjoy life unless we get the necks of the Al Saud rulers,” and the assassination of Aden’s provincial government by a car bomb.
The Arabian branch of Al Qaeda is counted by counterterrorism experts to have become as dangerous as ISIS. A large force armed with advanced weaponry, AQAP gangs now race around Yemen in convoys packed with armed fighters, exactly like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
The danger now is that armed AQAP convoys will drive into the desert and link up with ISIS trucks from Iraq, catching both the Saudis and the Americans off-guard.

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