The United States has quietly opened a third, largely covert front against the
Al-Qaeda terror network in Yemen, according to The New York Times newspaper.
A year ago, the Central Intelligence Agency sent a number of its top field
operatives with counter-terrorism experience to the country, the newspaper
At the same time, some of the most secretive special operations commandos have
begun training Yemeni security forces in counter-terrorism tactics, the
The Pentagon is to spend more than $70 million (£48.3m) over the next 18
months, and use teams of Special Forces to train and equip Yemeni military,
Interior Ministry and coast guard forces.
Yemen became the focus of US attention after Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a
known Nigerian extremist who tried to blow up a Detroit-bound plane on
Christmas Day, confessed to training with an Al-Qaeda bombmaker in Yemen,
security officials told the US media.
The country has become a refuge for jihadists, in part because Yemen's
government welcomed returning Islamist fighters who had fought in
Afghanistan during the 1980s, but al Qaeda militants have made much more
focused efforts to build a base in the country recently, drawing recruits
from throughout the region and mounting attacks more frequently on foreign
embassies and other targets.
Fears are also growing of a resurgent Islamist extremism in nearby Somalia and
East Africa. Administration officials and American lawmakers said Yemen
could become Al Qaeda’s next operational and training hub, rivaling the
lawless tribal areas of Pakistan where the organization’s top leaders
“Yemen now becomes one of the centers of that fight,” said Senator Joseph
Lieberman, the chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
Committee, who visited the country in August. “We have a growing presence
there, and we have to, of Special Operations, Green Berets, intelligence,”
he said on Fox News Sunday.
The White House is now seeking to nurture enduring ties with the government of
President Ali Abdullah Saleh and prod him to combat the local Al-Qaeda
affiliate, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.