In covering the 2009 announcement of AQAP’s foundation by its leaders (two of whom were former Guantanamo detainees), Arab media tended not to reference the Guantanamo connection, focusing instead on AQAP’s goals and the environment within which it hoped to achieve success.
The Saudi-owned outlet Asharq al-Awsat remarked that Saudi Arabia and Yemen are two countries in the region which have been targeted most by al-Qaeda attacks, despite being among the few countries to have achieved any positive results from non-military means such as their rehabilitation programs. The writer asked what “political or geographic or social environment” al-Qaeda would find in Yemen, and whether Yemen would be a safe haven for the group to launch attacks against neighboring countries.
For perspective on why al-Qaeda chose Yemen and why rehabilitation efforts failed, the outlet interviewed Sheikh Rashad Mohamed Saeed, a former leader of al-Qaeda in Yemen and Afghanistan. Saeed said that recent events “in Gaza and elsewhere, have created a fertile environment” for the group to survive and find new recruits, and they likely relocated to Yemen because the neighboring Gulf countries had better internal security capabilities. As for recidivism from Saudi Arabia’s Counseling program and Yemen’s Intellectual Dialogue, Saeed said that both programs have positive aspects, but “when dialogue comes from an authoritarian, it is not acceptable at all…” Arafat Mudabish, “Hal Yatahawal Al-Yemen ‘ila Ard ‘Al-Madad’ li ‘Al-Qaeda’?” Asharq Al-Awsat, January 30, 2009, http://classic.aawsat.com/details.asp?section=45&article=504936&issueno=11021#.U6mV9rFCxAg.