Aden-Abyan was formed sometime in either 1996 or 1997 as a loose guerrilla network of a few dozen men—a mix of veterans of the Soviet-Afghan war and Islamists from various countries. In May 1998, it issued the first of a series of political and religious statements on Yemeni and world affairs. In December 1998, Aden-Abyan kidnapped a party of 16 Western tourists in southern Yemen, 4 of whom later died during a botched rescue by Yemeni security forces. The leader of the group, Abu al-Hassan al-Mihdar, was executed for his role in the kidnappings.
Numerous connections have been drawn between Aden-Abyan and the Al Qaeda network. After the 1998 attack on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, Aden-Abyan claimed it was a “heroic operation carried out by heroes of the jihad.” Later, following an American raid on Osama bin Laden’s camp in Afghanistan, Aden-Abyan announced its support for him and asked Yemeni people to kill Americans and destroy their property. It is also believed that Aden-Abyan ran a training camp in a remote part of southern Yemen; when the government tried to close it, a bin Laden representative attempted to intervene.
In October 2000, two suicide bombers aligned with Aden-Abyan exploded their boat alongside the U.S.S. Cole, in port in Aden. Most experts agree that the attack was the combined work of Aden-Abyan and Al Qaeda. One day after the Cole incident, a bomb was lobbed into the British Embassy, shattering Windows at both the embassy and nearby buildings. Four members of Aden-Abyan were later sentenced for the embassy bombing.While the Yemeni government claims to have wiped out Aden-Abyan, it is likely that it still exists as a loose, less organized band of Yemenis and non- Yemenis. In general, though, foreign involvement in jihad activity in Yemen has been decreasing as a result of more stringent security forces. In the month after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, President Bush included Aden-Abyan on the frozenassets list, a measure that could push Aden-Abyan into further inactivity.