Entries in yemen (95)


Yemen Says US Ramping Up Drone Strikes

JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images(SANAA, Yemen) -- U.S. drone strikes against terrorist targets in Yemen have been on the increase since late last year, with reports this week of more targeted attacks on suspected militants.

On Wednesday, at least seven al-Qaeda-linked militants were reportedly killed when their car was struck by rockets fired from an unmanned drone about 20 miles southeast of the capital of Sanaa, according to Yemeni officials.

This follows a reported strike on Tuesday that left as many as five suspected terrorists dead.

While the Pentagon does not comment on drone attacks, Yemen's Human Rights Minister Hooria Mashhour recently condemned the action by his government's ally, saying there were more effective ways of stopping al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

The Obama administration has conducted the drone strikes in Yemen with the implicit approval of both former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his successor, President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Al Qaeda Places Bounty on US Ambassador, Troops in Yemen

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Al Qaeda's branch in Yemen is reportedly offering money for the killing of the American ambassador in Sanaa or an American soldier.

A video that claims to be from the group has announced a bounty of three kilograms of gold -- roughly $160,000 -- for the head of Gerald Feierstein.  A bounty of $23,000 has been placed for any American soldier.

ABC News hasn't verified the authenticity of the video.  It was posted online separately, claiming to be part of a much longer video -- one that ABC has authenticated.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US Embassy Security Staffer Murdered in Yemen

STR/AFP/GettyImages(SANAA, Yemen) -- A U.S. embassy security team leader from Yemen was reportedly gunned down on his way to work Thursday in the Yemeni capital.

Qassem Aqlan, who headed a team tasked with protecting the American compound in the unstable nation, was killed by an unidentified gunman in Sanaa.

“We are deeply saddened by this tragic incident involving a Yemeni employee of our embassy in Sanaa and we are working with Yemeni authorities,” a senior State Department official told reporters.

Aqlan’s death comes a month after four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed in a terrorist attack on a diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya.

In a dramatic Congressional hearing Wednesday, State Department officials faced tough questions about whether it had failed to respond to concerns about the security of its staff in Libya, an obviously violent nation, before the attack.

U.S. officials have said the Benghazi attack may be linked to Ansar al-Sharia, a militant group with ties to the al Qaeda affiliate al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Though no groups have claimed responsibility for the murder in Yemen, officials there say the attack is characteristic of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), BBC News reports.

In recent years, top U.S. officials have said regional affiliates of the terrorist group, especially AQAP and AQIM, pose a greater threat to the U.S. homeland and American interests abroad than the “core” al Qaeda group that was led by Osama bin Laden before his death last May.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Protests Erupt at US Embassies in Yemen and Egypt

MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/GettyImages(SANAA, Yemen) -- Outrage over the anti-Muslim film Innocence of Muslims spread across the Middle East on Thursday as protesters rushed the U.S. Embassy in Sana'a, Yemen, while further demonstrations began outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt.

Protesters in Sana'a managed to breach the area past the main gate at the U.S. Embassy, but were stopped at the security perimeter.

"Smoke is rising, they just flooded the security barriers.  [There are] no casualties.  [There is] shooting.  It's crazy," a Yemeni official told ABC News.

Tear gas was being thrown by Yemeni forces as protesters were seen scrambling over fences and over the main gate.  Gunshots were fired into the air by Yemeni forces to stop the demonstrators.

According to a U.S. embassy spokesman in Yemen, all personnel are safe.

"Initial reports are that all Embassy personnel are safe and accounted for," the spokesman said early Thursday.

A senior official on the Obama administration said that the Yemeni government has aided the U.S. in maintaining order.

"We are doing everything we can to support our mission in Yemen.  We've had good cooperation from the Yemeni government which is working with us to maintain order and protect our facilities and people.  These protests appear to be motivated by the film," the official said.

The Embassy of the Republic of Yemen in Washington, D.C., released a statement condemning the attacks.

"The Government of Yemen condemns any and all acts of violence against diplomatic personnel and facilities.  We strongly urge all those that would wish to incite others to violence to cease immediately," the embassy said, adding that order had been restored.

In Egypt, the protests outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo turned violent again Wednesday night and early Thursday morning.  Security forces had to fight off the protesters with tear gas and warning shots, which managed to push the crowds back more than 600 feet to Tahrir Square.

Meanwhile, U.S. Navy forces have moved two missile destroyers off the coast of Libya as an extra precaution for increased security from Libyan extremists after the attacks that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on Tuesday.

All U.S. interests across the region are in a heightened state of alert, particularly now that the government believes the assault in Benghazi was a coordinated terrorist attack planned specifically for the 11th anniversary of 9/11, and not the result of anger over the anti-Muslim film that is being blamed for sparking the protest in Cairo.

It is still unclear exactly who the attackers in Benghazi were, but President Obama said Wednesday night at a campaign rally in Las Vegas that he is committed to justice and working with the Libyan government to track down the attackers responsible for the consulate deaths.

"I want to assure you we will bring their killers to justice and we want to send us a message all around the world to anyone who wants to do us harm.  No act of terror will dim the light and the values that we proudly shine on the rest of the world, and no act of violence will shake the resolve of the United States of America," Obama said.

The Embassy in Tripoli, Libya, is now at emergency staffing levels.  All non-essential employees have been ordered to leave.

The attack on the consulate in Benghazi Tuesday came shortly after protesters in Cairo scaled the walls of the U.S. embassy and tore down the American flag in an angry demonstration against the film Innocence of Muslims, which depicts the founder of Islam, Muhammad, as a fraud and a womanizer.

Obama addressed the United States' relationship with Egypt on Wednesday night in an interview with Telemundo.  "I don't think that we would consider them [Egypt] an ally, but we don't consider them an enemy," Obama said.

Obama instead characterized the relationship with Egypt as a "work in progress," expressing hope that the fledgling Egyptian government would be "responsive" to U.S. security concerns.

Egypt's embassy, along with embassies located in Armenia, Burundi, Kuwait, Sudan, Tunisia and Zambia, all issued warnings on Wednesday, advising Americans to be particularly vigilant.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Yemeni Defense Chief Survives Another Assassination Attempt

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SANAA, Yemen) -- Yemen's defense minister escaped what appeared to be another attempt on his life Tuesday when a car bomb exploded in the capital city of Sanaa, killing at least 12 people.

Witnesses said that the explosion occurred alongside a convoy of vehicles used by Major General Mohammed Nasser Ahmed.

The Yemeni official was not harmed in the powerful blast that left seven of his bodyguards dead and killed five civilians.

There have been at least three other assassination attempts on Ahmed over the past year, including one targeting a military parade in Sanaa last May that killed nearly 100 soldiers and wounded 200 others.

While no one claimed responsibility for Tuesday's car bombing, suspicion immediately fell on al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which lost its second-in-command, according to Yemeni authorities, during a U.S.-led drone strike in Yemen last week.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Gitmo Detainee Turned Terror Commander Killed: Reports

AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- An al Qaeda terror commander, who was released from Guantanamo Bay to join an art-based "jihadi rehab" program only to return to the fight as a high-ranking member of al Qaeda's Yemen branch, has been killed, according to Yemen's state-run media.

Said al-Shihri, a Saudi national considered by the U.S. government to be the number two man in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), was taken out in an airstrike along with six other militants, Yemen's Saba news agency reported today, citing security officials. DNA tests reportedly had not been done to confirm al-Shihri's death.

Al-Shihri, a "veteran jihadist," traveled to Afghanistan shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks to fight coalition troops, only to be captured weeks later, according to West Point's Combating Terrorism Center. He was sent to the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he stayed for six years before being released to Saudi Arabia. There, he entered a so-called "jihadi rehab" program that attempted to turn terrorists into art students by getting them to get "negative energy out on paper," as the program's director told ABC News in 2009.

But just months after he supposedly entered the fingerpainting camp, al-Shihri reappeared in Yemen where he was suspected to have been behind a deadly bombing at the U.S. embassy there.

At the time, critics of the "jihadi rehab" program used al-Shihri as evidence that extremists would just go through the motions in order to be freed.

"They basically schmooze or con their way out of the system and then they get out," former FBI agent and ABC News consultant Brad Garrett said in the 2009 ABC News report.

Before his release from Guantanamo, al-Shihri had told his captors that should he be freed, he would return to Saudi Arabia to work in his family's furniture store, according to detention documents posted online by The New York Times.

Since before Osama bin Laden's death at the hands of U.S. Navy SEALs in May 2011, U.S. security officials have warned that al Qaeda's regional arms -- especially AQAP -- represented a greater danger to the U.S. than the traditional "core" of the terror organization over which bin Laden presided.

Officials at the CIA, whose drone program U.S. officials say was responsible for the death of another high-profile AQAP member in April, declined to comment for this report.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Suicide Bombing in Yemen Kills More than 40 During Funeral

SANAA, Yemen(SANAA, Yemen) -- Dozens of people were reportedly killed by a suicide bomb attack carried out Saturday in the southern Yemeni city of Jaar.

Witnesses said that mourners were attending a funeral service for a nephew of an al Qaeda sympathizer who had recently joined forces with the Yemeni army when someone detonated a powerful explosive.

At least 24 people were killed at the scene, with another 20 later dying from injuries they suffered.  At least 40 people were also wounded in the attack.

Jaar is one of several towns in southern Yemen that was under al Qaeda control until government forces moved in to expel them.

Saturday's bombing came after a U.S. drone strike in the southeastern province of Hadramaut that killed five suspected al Qaeda militants.

Washington has stepped up its effort in assisting the Yemeni government against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, now considered the terrorist group's most active wing.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Family of Slain Cleric Anwar al-Awlaki Sues Leon Panetta, David Petraeus

Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The family of an al Qaeda member is suing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and CIA Director David Petraeus for the drone attack that killed Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen last year.

Others joining the lawsuit include the relatives of al-Awlaki's 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, and online jihadist publication editor Samir Khan.

Since al-Awlaki, his son and Khan were all American citizens, the suit alleges the drone strike "violated the Constitution's fundamental guarantee against the deprivation of life without due process of law."

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the dead Americans by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights.

According to a report by The New York Times, the lawsuit "may face other procedural impediments before it would reach any substantive ruling on whether the strikes violated the Constitution."

Al-Awlaki, who was born in the U.S., was considered a key member of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and was tied to various attempts to plant bombs aboard planes bound for the U.S. and a car bomb that did not detonate in New York City's Times Square.  He also regularly communicated with Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, who is accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009.

Back in 2010, a federal judge turned back an attempt by al-Awlaki's father to block the Obama administration from targeting the cleric for assassination.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Yemeni Army Regains Control of Towns Turned into Al Qaeda Strongholds

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SANAA, Yemen) -- Al Qaeda militants were driven from two towns in Yemen on Tuesday, a major coup for the government, which has dealt with the rising influence of the terrorist group.

Yemen's southern province has been a major stronghold for al Qaeda since the uprising known as the Arab Spring unsettled the region early last year.

However, the Yemeni army has recently stepped up attacks against terrorist fighters and by early Tuesday regained control of the town of Jaar as most al Qaeda gunmen fled rather than confront an overwhelming force.

Hours later, a Yemeni general said that the town of Zinjibar was also in the military's hands, proclaiming "al Qaeda fighters have fled the city after the noose was tightened on them."

According to the army, at least 26 al Qaeda militants were killed in the two operations, while four Yemeni soldiers also died.

Al Qaeda later released a statement that insisted it left the towns "not under military pressure but rather to prevent the further bloodshed of Muslims."

It was exactly a month ago that Yemeni President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi ordered a major operation to take back towns and cities lost to al Qaeda in the country's southern province.

The U.S., which supports efforts against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which is headquartered in Yemen, has also lent its support in the way of equipment and training.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Salmon Fishing in Yemen? Not So Much, Says Tourism Board

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SANA’A, Yemen) -- When Hollywood released a romantic, independent film this year called Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, it was quite a surprise, at least to the Yemenis, that movie goers would be inspired to try to travel to one of the most dangerous hotspots in the world.

Yemen, a small desert country in the Middle East bordered by Saudi Arabia, Oman and the Red Sea, is largely known as a breeding ground for terrorists, not fish. But now it appears that the dream depicted in the film has taken hold -- at least among some would-be tourists.

As executive director of Yemen’s tourism board, Fatima Huraiba has one of the hardest jobs the country.  While she is trying to promote tourism, the U.S. State Department is warning American tourists to avoid the region. She says she has been receiving emails from people around the world who have seen the film and hope to come there to fish.

Even in the fictional film, salmon fishing in Yemen is presented as a challenge, but Huraiba says it is impossible.  In addition to the violence and poverty, Yemen is desperate for water.

Nevertheless, while traveling to Yemen is not for everyone, the country is said to be stunningly beautiful -- even without salmon fishing.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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