Rajeh Badi, spokesman for the Yemeni Prime Minister, has stated that an Al Qaeda plot to take over two ports and nearby oil and gas facilities has been thwarted. The government statement said that “Large numbers of government forces are making sure the Yemeni coasts are safe from any Al-Qaeda attack. Al-Qaeda sought to attack the oil pipelines but failed and tried to attack through the coast of Mukalla but failed as well.”
Last week, the US Department of State announced that it would close 22 embassies in several Muslim countries, including Yemen, on August 4, in response to an Al-Qaeda threat. This closure was accompanied by a worldwide travel alert to Americans abroad. France, the UK, and Germany also said that they would be closing their embassies in Yemen on August 4, and 5. The UK went even further and its Foreign Office advised its citizens to stay out of Yemen, and to leave if already there.
The US and Britain have withdrawn all non-essential embassy personnel from Yemen. The Yemeni Ministry of Foreign affairs has said that “while the government of Yemen appreciates foreign governments’ concern for the safety of their citizens, the evacuation of embassy staff serves the interests of the extremists and undermines the exceptional cooperation between Yemen and the international alliance against terrorism.” Jen Psaki, spokeswoman for the US Department of State, said of the move that “it is inaccurate to call it an evacuation; this is a reduction in staff.” Britain will keep its embassy closed until it deems it safe for its staff to return. The measure is expected to last until the end of the Muslim festival of Eid.
This has been followed by a US advisory to its citizens in Yemen to leave the country after a series of US drone strikes killed at least six Al-Qaeda militants in Shabwa province, according to Yemeni intelligence officials that chose to remain anonymous when speaking to CNN.
The US State Department has extended its closures until August 10 for 19 of the embassies.
Because of the heightened security concerns, the Yemeni governement issued a list of 25 “most wanted” terrorists on Tuesday. It is believed that none of the militants killed by the drone strikes were on that list. Of particular concern within the AQAP (Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) organization, which is based in Yemen, is Ibrahim al-Asiri, the terrorist group’s bomb maker, and the man who has plotted some of its most notorious attacks. Asiri is thought to be training a group of other explosive experts to take his place in the event that he is killed.
Despite the Al-Qaeda plot being thwarted at two separate locations, the terrorist organization assassinated a Yemeni intelligence agent earlier this week. In addition, a military helicopter patrolling an oil pipeline that has been attacked by Al-Qaeda in the past was downed in Mareb province, resulting in the deaths of at least 8 people, including the 107th Brigade commander. This is also suspected to be the work of the terrorist group.
By Milton Ruiz
List of embassies closed