By Kristina Wong - 08/19/14 10:37 AM EDT
Al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen is declaring its support for the Sunni extremist group that has taken over large swaths of Iraq and Syria, creating the potential for a new alliance against the United States.
“We announce solidarity with our Muslim brothers in Iraq against the crusade. Their blood and injuries are ours and we will surely support them,” said a statement published by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the Yemen Times reported Tuesday.
AQAP is believed to pose the most dangerous threat to the U.S. of all the al Qaeda affiliates, because it has tried to stage attacks against the United States several times.
A budding relationship between ISIS and al Qaeda in Yemen was first noted by U.S. officials several months ago, but the proclamation, issued Aug. 14, is the first official link between the groups.
The Yemen affiliate said in its statement it was advising "our brothers in Iraq" to be cautious about spies, based on its experience with U.S. drones over Yemen.
"Be cautious about dealing with cell phones and internet networks; do not gather in large numbers or move in large convoys; spread in farms or hide under trees in the case of loud humming of warplanes; and dig sophisticated trenches because they reduce the impact of shelling,” read the AQAP statement.
One expert, Saeed Al-Jamhi, head of the Al-Jamhi Center for Strategic Studies, told the Yemen Times that there were ISIS gunmen training fighters in Yemen, and some AQAP members fighting in Iraq.
Al-Jamhi also said there were divisions within AQAP over whether to support ISIS, but predicted that division would fade as ISIS increases its stature.