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Al Qaeda contest in Yemen offers guns, cash prizes in honor of Ramadan

As Yemen continues to battle civil war and stave off famine, militants with the Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's (AQAP) branch Ansar Al Sharia are seizing upon the latest unrest to attract people to jihad. This week jihadis launched a contest in the city of Taiz offering prizes, including an automatic rifle, a pistol and other incentives to entrants who listen to a series of audio lectures on jihad, study accompanying text and then write a 30-page review of the syllabus. Flyers, handed out by gun-toting militants, state that the contest entitled, “Our Message,” was launched in honor of the upcoming Muslim holy month of Ramadan with entries due on the middle on the 15th of Ramadan. A total of 10 prizes have been promised, including a brand new AK-47 automatic rifle for the winner and a motorcycle for the runner-up. The various other prizes include a pistol, a laptop and a cellphone, as well as cash prizes. They also handed out a review sheet containing questions on the syllabus. "Name three articles of the (Yemeni) constitution which contradict Islamic Law," reads one of the questions, in the quiz seen by the Reuters news agency. "Any person who follows a law other than Islamic law is an infidel who must be killed. List three (scriptural) references for this," reads another. The flyer also cautions entrants against copying work from other contestants, warning that plagiarism will result in the disqualification of both contestants. The news comes amidst an upsurge of Al Qaeda activity across Yemen as the terrorist group mingles with various Sunni backed fighters battling Houthi-rebels fighting a three-year insurgency against the internationally recognized government of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. Earlier this week, in a videotaped message, Al Qaeda’s Emir in the Arabian Peninsula, Qasim Al Raymi, appealed to Muslims in the West to carry out “easy and simple” attacks, telling them that they should not view themselves as individual ‘lone-wolf’ attackers, but rather a ‘united army in the West’. “We are a single united body, an American Muslim is the same as a Yemeni Muslim, and a Yemeni Muslim is the same as an Australian Muslim. We do not believe in nationalism; we believe in Islam,” according to a translation issued by The Long War Journal. Since President Trump’s inauguration in January, there has been a surge in U.S. Military activity against Al Qaeda in Yemen. Hundreds of militants are said to have been killed in a series of U.S. airstrikes against Al Qaeda strongholds in Yemen in early March, while a commando raid in late January left at least half a dozen militants dead. A U.S. Navy sailor, Chief Petty Officer Ryan Owens, as well as several civilians also died in the raid.
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