Terrorism Profiles

Islamic Army of Aden (IAA)

Alternative Names:

IAA, Aden-Abyan Islamic Army, Aden Islamic Army, Army of Mohammad and the Jaish Adan Al Islami, Islamic Aden Army, Islamic Army of Aden-Abyan (IAAA) Jaysh Adan, Muhammed’s Army, AAIA


Yemen, Arab countries


In 1999 IAA’s leader, Zayn al-Abidin, was executed for his role in the kidnapping of 16 foreign tourists the previous year. IAA’s subsequent commander, Khalid al-Nabi, was killed by Yemeni security forces in October 2003.


The IAA’s membership includes veteran Islamic fighters from the Soviet war in Afghanistan. The command and control, as well as force structure of the organization remains unclear.

Funding Sources:

The IAA has established connections to al-Qaeda and receives funding from a disparate network of radical supporters in the Persian Gulf region.


The IAA was formed in the mid 1990s as a loose network of guerrilla fighters and veterans of the Soviet war in Afghanistan.

The group emerged publicly in 1998 after releasing numerous communiqués that expressed support for Osama bin Laden, appealed for the overthrow of the Yemeni government, and called for attacks against U.S. and other western interests in Yemen.

Major Attacks:

December 1998: IAA militants kidnapped 16 British, American, and Australian tourists near Mudiyah in southern Yemen. During a rescue attempt by Yemeni security forces, four hostages were killed and the remainder were freed.

January 2000: IAA attempted to bomb the USS The Sullivans (navy ship).

October 2000: Two IAA suicide bombers, operating with the support of al-Qaeda, utilized an explosive laden watercraft to carry out an attack against the USS Cole in the Port of Aden. The attack killed 17 U.S. sailors and injured 39 others.

October 2000: IAA militants threw a grenade into the British Embassy compound in Sanaa, Yemen.

October 2002: The IAA claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack against a French oil tanker, which killed one crew member. The tactics utilized resembled those of the attack against the USS Cole.

June 2003: IAA carried out an attack against a medical convoy in the Abyan Governorate, prompting a military response from the Government of Yemen.

Ideological Roots:

IAA traces its ideological roots to a radical interpretation of Sunni Islam, much like its al-Qaeda affiliate.


The IAA seeks to promote jihad in the fight against secularism in Yemen and other Arab states and establish an Islamist government in Yemen.


Suicide bombings, kidnappings, firearm attacks, and low-intensity bomb attacks.

Recent Articles

Profile Last Updated: 1/7/2016

View References

  1. “Aden-Abyan Islamic Army.” Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium. Last modified 2015. Accessed December 26, 2015. http://www.trackingterrorism.org/group/aden-abyan-islamic-army
  2. “Country Reports on Terrorism 2005.” US Department of State. Last modified April, 2006. Accessed December 26, 2015. http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/65462.pdf

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