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Is Al Qaeda in Yemen connected to Al Qaeda in Somalia?

In the wake of the Christmas Day Northwest airlines bombing attempt, some are wondering if the Al Qaeda branches in Yemen and Somalia are linked. Most experts don't see evidence of coordination – not yet.

Two Yemeni soldiers operate at a checkpoint in the streets of San'a, Yemen, Thursday.

Nasser Nasser/AP

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Yemen and Somalia are separated geographically by the Gulf of Aden, which at its narrowest point, is just 100 miles across – about the same distance as Miami is from Cuba. The ethnic, cultural, and linguistic gap between the two nations is much wider.

Still, both are poor, internally riven nations battling Islamist insurgencies.

In the wake of the Christmas Day Northwest airlines bombing attempt, some observers are wondering if the Al Qaeda branch in Yemen might be connected to the Al Qaeda sympathizers in Somalia.

Regional exerts say there is little if any concrete evidence of a broad, coordinated terrorist campaign in both countries. But it could happen.

"The linkage is that you have elements in both countries with the same jihadist and extremist ideology,” says Ted Dagne, a Horn of Africa expert and senior researcher at the Congressional Research Service in Washington. “The geographic proximity allows these extremists to sustain themselves and coordinate their efforts.”


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