Yemen Qaeda chief announces formation of `an army`: Website

Qassim al-Rimi announces creation of an army to free Yemen of "crusaders".

Dubai: Al Qaeda`s military chief in Yemen Qassim al-Rimi on Monday announced the creation of an "Aden-Abyan Army" to free the country of "crusaders and their apostate agents”, in an Internet audio tape.

"We are preparing to implement the first steps of the Aden-Abyan Army to defend the nation and its religion... and free this land of crusaders and their apostate agents," the Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) leader said.

"This Army is in its early stages," he said, calling for help from jihadists and their supporters in the audio message whose authenticity could not be verified immediately.

"Snipers and explosives" had been used in the past months to target police and security forces in southern and eastern Yemen, Rimi said, adding the group was "encouraged" by the success of such attacks.

But he warned his group had "so far kept its main cards up its sleeve, and would only use them according to the changing circumstances”.

Rimi said for now the group was "avoiding direct confrontation" with the Army of President Ali Abdullah Saleh in urban areas, adding however that "we have a presence in several mountainous areas, deserts and coastal areas”.

AQAP was conducting a "war of attrition to widen the front with the enemy in order to weaken it”, he added, comparing his group to Afghanistan`s Taliban and the al Qaeda-inspired Shebab group in Somalia.

"The mujahideen (holy fighters) are advancing toward their uncertain goal: to apply Sharia in the Islamic Peninsula (Arabian Peninsula) by means of jihad," said the AQAP military leader.

Yemen says it has been on the offensive against AQAP since the group claimed responsibility for a failed bid on Christmas Day in 2009 to blow up a US airliner over Detroit by a Nigerian it allegedly trained.