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09 May 2012


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It's never been entirely clear to me what T.S. Eliot intended, but it seems apropos:

In a wilderness of mirrors. What will the spider do,
Suspend its operations, will the weevil

It seems unhelpful to belabor these things.


A couple of stray thoughts. If what we know is the straight story, then a question arises as to the purpose of the 'double" in volunteering to carry the bomb. Was he in fact the only volunteer and, therefore, his doing so necessary confirmation of the group's intention actually to carry out the act? After all, he could have revealed the plans (if and when they crystallized) AND continued as an infiltrated agent in a position to provide important details about persons, organizations, contact, etc. He was a unique asset from what we're told. If the only volunteer, what does it say about the group's capabilities?

Is this incident not further evidence of how limited are the terrorist abilities to strike the US/West? Planting a bomb on an airplane is a far cry from 9/11 or the imagined horrors of nuclear fizzle bombs placed in Michael Bloomberg's executive rest room.


I fear that Yemeni Zaydi society is disintegrating. The Huthi rebellion is symptomatic of this. The regime of Ali Abdallah Saleh his cousin, Ali Muhsin, and the forces behind the religious Islah party (the Al-Ahmar brothers of the Usaymat tribe of Hashid, with Shaykh Zindani from the Arhab tribe of Bakil) have drifted from Zaydism to 'pretending' to be Sunnis. In much the same way that the Asads have become 'Sunnified', it serves a purpose - partly to gain largesse from the Saudis and partly to seek support from the Sunni southern and eastern parts of the country.
In doing so they have shifted the heart of the country away from its traditional base, the Zaydi North, which is one of the reasons the Huthis felt marginalised and started an insurgency. The other reason behind the insurgency is because their traditional caste system is eroding. The poor, non-tribesmen, butchers, traders etc at the bottom of the pile have been opting out of Zaydism and moving towards Wahhabism from their time spent in Saudi Arabia. With Wahhabism everyone is equal, no tribal/Zaydi heirarchy.
Shaykh Zindani - he who harboured Ayman Al-Awlaqi in his farm, is from the Zaydi heartland but who has converted to Wahhabism. Many of his immediate tribe, the Bayt Al-Hanaq of the Zindan of the Arhab are ex-Afghan mujahidin.
Like you, Im not so worried about AQAP, but I am wondering about the crumbling of the Zaydi system as it ajdusts to the modern world.

Abu Sinan

There is a rather large Yemeni community here in the DC area, even where I work. I had one Yemeni lady, a Zaydi, describe their form of Shi'a as "Shi'a light". Hanafi is kind of the same, not so extreme as the Hanbalis (Wahabis) next door.



Congratulations on knowing so much about this. IMO factional fighting among the Zaidis is unimportant. They have always fought each other. The Arab segmentary lineage system feeds that tendency. When I was DATT in Sana there were half a dozen tribal wars going on all the time. Somewere against other Zaidia, some against Salih and some against the Sunnis. pl


Someone has called my attention to reports that the double agent brought with him not only the bomb but also "inside information on the "terrorist group's leaders, locations, methods and plans." If it is true that he was so successful, then the question of why he was withdrawn is answered. In so doing, though, another question is highlighted. If a low level recent recruit is able to acquire such vital and comprehensive information, then the organization must be pretty small and unsophisticated. Obviously not the Goldman Sachs of international terrorism as visualized in the overheated imaginations of the terrorism warriors.

Mark Gaughan

Thanks for sharing all of your knowledge with us. I learn so much here.

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