News reports earlier today highlighted how the al Qaeda organization under Ayman al Zawahiri’s new leadership may aim more at Western targets overseas than in the U.S. homeland. This is a broader attack strategy than previously seen by the organization, and better aligns with the al Qaeda leadership in Pakistan and Yemen, which have increasingly become the groups’ most prominent breeders of terrorist operatives. The tradecraft of al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen is to carry out any type of attack, no matter how significant the impact may be. Therefore, U.S. officials are seeking new approaches to their counterterrorism tactics, specifically towards potential U.S. or other Western targets in Europe or Africa. This reporting also notes a stronger, growing collaboration between al Qaeda’s affiliates in different countries. For example, there have been mentions recently of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen having closer ties with al Shabaab in Somalia. This may lead to local affiliates having more operational capability to conduct attacks outside of their regions.
MSA Security advises those who are traveling or conducting business abroad in countries with a heavy Western influence to review security policies for facilities in those areas. A safe program should be established for traveling executives and employees. Foreign travelers overseas may want to familiarize themselves with past events in the area in which they plan to travel, and take the necessary precautions going forward.