Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – Yemen Province

Yemen Province
ولاية اليمن
Participant in the Yemeni Civil War

Active 13 November 2014–present
Ideology Salafist Islamism
Salafist Jihadism
Leaders Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (Leader of ISIL)
Abu Bilal al-Harbi[1]
Area of operations  Yemen
Strength 300[2]
Part of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant

State opponents

Non-state opponents

Battles and wars Yemeni Civil War

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – Yemen Province (Wilayah al-Yemen) is a branch of the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), active in Yemen. ISIL announced the group's formation on 13 November 2014.[5][6]


On 13 November 2014, ISIL announced that a branch of the group had been established in Yemen, following pledges of allegiance made by unidentified militants in the country. al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the strongest militant group in the country, rejected this establishment.[5][7] By December of that year, ISIL had begun to build an active presence inside Yemen, and its recruitment drive brought it into direct competition with AQAP.[8][9] The branch's first attack occurred in March 2015, when it carried out suicide bombings on 2 Shia Mosques in the Yemeni capital.[1][10] In the following months it continued to carry out attacks aimed largely at civilian targets associated with the Shia Houthi movement.[2]

Yemen Province's organizational structure is divided into geographical based sub-units. At least seven separate sub-wilayah, named after existing administrative divisions of Yemen, have claimed responsibility for attacks in Yemen, including Sana’a, Lahj, Shabwah, Hadhramaut and al-Bayda Provinces.[11][12] The group has been able to attract recruits by appealing to heightened sectarianism in the country following the outbreak of the Yemeni Civil War in 2015.[12] It has received a number of defectors from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, who are drawn by the group's money and its ability to carry out regular attacks against the Houthis. This has led to increased tensions with AQAP, although the two sides had avoided clashes as of late 2015.[2][13]

On 6 October 2015, ISIL militants conducted a series of suicide bombings in Aden that killed 15 soldiers affiliated with the Hadi government and the Saudi-led coalition.[3] The attacks were directed against the al-Qasr hotel, which had been a headquarters for pro-Hadi officials, and also military facilities.[3] The group carried out further attacks against pro-Hadi forces, including the December 2015 assassination of Aden's governor.[14] The group experienced a major split in the same month, when dozens of its members, including military and religious leaders, publicly rejected ISIL's leader in Yemen for perceived violations of Sharia. ISIL's central command condemned the dissenters, accusing them of violating their pledge to al-Baghdadi.[15][16] A member of AQAP claimed in early 2016 that about 30 members of ISIL in Yemen had recently defected to his organisation, unhappy with the group's tactics and targeting of mosques and Muslim civilians.[17] On 15 May 2016, ISIL militants claimed responsibility for a suicide attack that killed 25 police recruits in the city of Mukalla in southern Yemen. AQAP was forced out of the city in April by the Saudi-led coalition.[18]

Designation as a terrorist organization

Country Date References
 United States 19 May 2016 [19]


  1. 1 2 "This Man Is The Leader In ISIS's Recruiting War Against Al-Qaeda In Yemen". Buzzfeed. 7 July 2015. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  2. 1 2 3 "In Yemen chaos, Islamic State grows to rival al Qaeda". Reuters.
  3. 1 2 3 4 "Islamic State claims suicide attacks on Yemeni government, Gulf troops". Reuters. 6 October 2015. Retrieved 6 October 2015.
  4. "Al-Qaeda dispute with Isis devolves to name-calling". The Independent. 3 November 2015.
  5. 1 2 "The Islamic State's model". The Washington Post. 28 January 2015. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  6. "Islamic State leader urges attacks in Saudi Arabia: speech". Reuters. 13 November 2014.
  7. "Islamic State builds on al-Qaeda lands". BBC News. 30 January 2015. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  8. "ISIS gaining ground in Yemen, competing with al Qaeda". CNN. 21 January 2015. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  9. "Yemeni Al-Qaeda leader hails ISIS gains in Iraq". Al Arabiya. 13 August 2014.
  10. "Yemen crisis: Islamic State claims Sanaa mosque attacks". BBC News. 20 March 2015. Retrieved 24 March 2015.
  11. "ISIS Global Intelligence Summary March 1 – May 7, 2015" (PDF). Institute for the Study of War. 10 May 2015. Retrieved 12 May 2015.
  12. 1 2 "Wilayat al-Yemen: The Islamic State's New Front". Institute for the Study of War. 7 August 2015. Retrieved 2 October 2015.
  13. "Seven killed in Islamic State suicide bombing in Yemeni capital". Reuters. 6 October 2015. Retrieved 6 October 2015.
  14. "Yemen conflict: Governor of Aden killed in Islamic State attack". BBC News. 6 December 2015.
  15. "Divisions emerge within the Islamic State's Yemen 'province'". Long War Journal. 23 December 2015. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  16. "More Islamic State members reject governor of Yemen Province". Long War Journal. 28 December 2015. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  17. "ISIS Fails to Gain Much Traction in Yemen". The Wall Street Journal. 28 March 2016. Retrieved 16 April 2016.(subscription required)
  18. "Yemen conflict: IS suicide attack kills 25 police recruits - BBC News". BBC News. Retrieved 2016-05-15.
  19. "Terrorist Designations of ISIL-Yemen, ISIL-Saudi Arabia, and ISIL-Libya". 2016-05-19. Retrieved 2016-05-19.
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