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Moreover, the unsettled situation in Yemen has provided increased opportunities for the group to operate without scrutiny and to recruit followers. The group has launched numerous successful attacks over the last year, including the killing in early July of a former high-ranking government official responsible for counter-terrorism during his tenure.

The United States views AQAP as such a significant threat that it not only uses drone attacks to target the group, but it has also sent advisors to Yemen to help the military combat AQAP on the ground.

Intelligence, however, is the most successful method to counter terrorism. “How do drones know where to strike? How do we know where AQAP is going to target next? How do we know what people and resources to move to protect them? Intelligence. I can’t even begin to tell you how many attacks we have stopped thanks to intelligence. But we don’t go out and broadcast that to the world. It doesn’t work that way,” says the active intelligence officer in the Middle East.

“Now? We are going to have to start all over again. We are operating blind,” he says.

• Lisa Ruth is an intelligence expert and a former analyst for the CIA.