Citing “ongoing threats by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to attack American interests in Yemen,” the State Department announced this morning they have shut the American Embassy there.
The British, citing similar threats, also closed their embassy.
The Washington Post, meanwhile, has an excellent piece tracking the history of troubles in Yemen, stating:
“Nearly a decade after the bombing of the USS Cole, a combination of US and Yemeni missteps, deep mistrust and a lack of political will have allowed Al Qaeda militants here to regroup and pose a major threat to the United States.”
The New York Times has a similarly themed piece, focusing on missteps and pointing out that Yemen is the ancestral home of Osama bin Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki, the militant cleric linked to the Fort Hood shooter and three of the September 11 bombers.
The paper highlights “one big moment” which “came in February 2006 when 23 imprisoned men suspected of being members of Al Qaeda escaped from a high-security prison reportedly with the aid of some Yemeni security forces.”
And while most were recaptured, one “became leader of the Qaeda cell in Yemen and moved to reorganize it, focusing it on attacks against nearby Western targets” and another “became the military commander.”
Sadly, awareness of the problems in Yemen is nothing new.
In April, the United States Department of State released their annual country reports on terrorism and concluded that Yemen’s “counterterrorism was mixed…. Yemen lacked a comprehensive counterterrorism law. Current law as applied to counterterrorism was weak. The Yemeni justice system was ineffective.
And in July. a report by the Congressional Research Service stated that “despite recent US-Yemeni security cooperation, many US officials view Yemen’s counterterrorism policies as inadequate” and quotes a former FBI agent and terrorism expert as saying about the Yemeni track record of freeing Al Qaeda prisoners: “If Yemen is truly an ally, it should act as an ally. It will be impossible to defeat Al Qaeda if our ‘allies’ are freeing the convicted murderers of US citizens and terrorist masterminds while receiving direct US financial aid.”