Terrorist army (illustrative)
Terrorist army (illustrative)Israel news photo: Flash 90

The heads of Al-Qaeda in Yemen claimed Thursday to be creating an army in the country's south. In an audio recording posted online, terrorist commander Mohammed Sayeed al-Omda said Al-Qaeda will soon have a fighting force of 12,000 soldiers based in the cities of Aden and Abyan.

Omda issued a threat to continue attacking Yemeni troops. “This is a message to the Yemeni government forces and National security service: Our swords are ready and we are going to cleanse the land,” he declared.

Al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility for two fatal attacks on government targets in Yemen since June, and is suspected of being behind an additional two attacks in the same period. The international terrorist group accuses the Yemeni government of joining with “crusaders” and killing Muslims in the battle against insurgent groups.

Al-Qaeda poses a real and immediate threat to the Yemeni government, according to United States Marine Corp General James Mattis, who is charged with heading US forces in the region. At his nomination hearing Tuesday Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Yemen has been pushed “to the breaking point.”

Yemeni President Ali Abdallah Saleh has dealt with crises “through negotiation and by co-opting his opponents,” Mattis said, adding “there are signs his ability to exert control is waning.”

Mattis listed Yemen, Pakistan and Afghanistan as the locations from which come the greatest threat from Al-Qaeda and its affiliate groups. The greatest threat lies in tribal regions of Pakistan “as those are strategic footholds for Al-Qaeda and its senior leaders,” he said.