Monday, March 22, 2010

U.S. intelligence: Al Qaeda may target ships off Yemen

[Updated at 1:53 p.m.] A U.S. official told CNN that the warning was issued due to information that al Qaeda individuals in Yemen were attempting to acquire a small boat and launch an attack on a commercial vessel.

[Posted at 8:51 a.m.] Military and commercial maritime traffic sailing off the coast of Yemen are being warned by U.S. intelligence they may be targeted by al Qaeda.

The U.S. Navy's Office of Naval Intelligence has posted a warning to mariners and military ships that "information suggests that al-Qaeda remains interested in maritime attacks."

The notice covers the waters of the Bab-al-Mandeb Strait, Red Sea, and the Gulf of Aden along the coast of Yemen.

The notice issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation and posted by the ONI says "although it is unclear how they would proceed, it may be similar in nature to the attacks against the USS COLE in October 2000, and the M/V LIMBURG in October 2002 where a small to mid-size boat laden with explosives was detonated."

The warning dated March 10 also says "other more sophisticated methods of attack could include missiles or projectiles. Although the time and location of such an attack are unknown, ships in the Red Sea, Bab-al-Mandeb Strait, and the Gulf of Aden along the coast of Yemen are at the greatest risk of becoming targets of such an attack."

The U.S. Navy urges all vessels in the region to "operate at a heightened state of readiness, maintain strict 24-hour visual and radar watches, and regularly report their position, course and speed" to maritime authorities in the region.

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