Shrum, a native of Mount Joy, PA, was gunned down on Sunday (March 18) in the central city of Taiz, where he had been living with his wife and two sons. He was studying Arabic and teaching English at a language institute.
COMMENT: Al-Qaeda's original claim of responsibility was contained on a militant website, comes as the now decentralized terror group seeks to exploit the political turmoil in the Arab world's most impoverished nation.
Shrum had worked at the International Training and Development Center in Taiz (Yemen's third-largest city, population 600,000), which is one of the oldest foreign language institutes in Yemen. According to Shrum's colleagues at the Center, the American had always advocated that his students remain faithful to Islam.
Shrum not only taught Yemenis English, but would often buy students books and assist them in learning computer skills.
As I have said in recent months, and even before Osama bin Laden was killed in a US Navy SEAL raid in Pakistan in May 2011, al-Qaeda is no longer the hierarchic-controlled organization it was in 2001.
Actually, since 2005, the nature of al-Qaeda began to change, whereby "lone wolves" and cells adopting al-Qaeda's hateful philosophy against the West began to ferment.
Increasingly, with decentralization and a shift to "soft targets," al-Qaeda surrogates have begun to shift their tactics from highly-sophisticated mass-casualty events to single assassinations and kidnappings, as the media effect is just as persuasive.
Such operations also have a great potential for success and are much less expensive than large-scale bombings.