Wednesday, August 7, 2013

NYTIMES: Yemen says it foiled terror plot


SANA, Yemen — Yemeni security officials said Wednesday that they had foiled an audacious plot by Al Qaeda to seize an important port and kidnap or kill foreigners working there, but the claim aroused some skepticism among Yemenis and independent terrorism analysts.

The foiled plot did not appear to be related to the threat that has led to the closing of embassies here and elsewhere.

A day after the United States and Britain moved to withdraw personnel from Yemen in response to concern over the possible terrorist threat, Yemen’s capital was in a state of high alert, with jet fighters soaring overhead and many streets barricaded.

Intercepts of secret correspondence between Ayman al-Zawahri, the leader of Al Qaeda, and Nasser al-Wuhayshi, the leader of the Qaeda affiliate inYemen, inspired deep concern inside the American government about a possible terrorist plot by the group. American government officials said that Mr. Zawahri used the communication to urge the Yemeni militant leader to carry out a large terrorist attack.

But the Yemen-based affiliate of Al Qaeda makes frequent threats, and Yemen’s government is under international pressure to show that it is working hard to counter the terrorist group.

At the same time, the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters, said a drone strike in Yemen’s southeast killed seven people on Wednesday. An earlier strike on Tuesday killed four people.

Yemeni security officials said the foiled militant plot included a plan to take control of the Mina al-Dhaba oil terminal in the Mukallah region on the Arabian Sea in the country’s southeast. The officials did not say how the plot — which followed government reports about a similar plot at the same port in June — had been disrupted.

The plan would have involved many Qaeda operatives wearing Yemeni Army uniforms to seize the port and then attack, kill or kidnap foreigners working there, the officials said. It was not clear if the disruption of the purported plan was linked to a spate of recent American drone strikes.

The security officials said the latest strike hit members of a Bedouin tribe some 40 miles west of Attaq in the southeastern area of Shabwah. It was the fifth known American strike in the last two weeks, part of an intensified campaign to disrupt the suspected plots that led to the embassy closings.


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