America's War on Terror: Yemen
In January 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Yemen "an urgent national security priority." The country is the ancestral home of the bin Laden family and has a long history of producing militants who go on to fight abroad.
Yemen has a variety of political parties ranging from Islamist to Socialist, but for more than three decades power in the country officially has been held by one man — Ali Abdullah Saleh. According to The New York Times Magazine, Saleh pays large sums of money to "sheiks, military leaders, political figures and anyone who might pose a threat to his power," which means that a large portion of Yemen's budget goes to funding bribery and other corruptive practices.
The first major evidence of Al Qaeda involvement in Yemen came when the U.S.S. Cole was attacked in the Yemeni port of Aden in 2000. After the September 11, 2001 attacks, Saleh, fearing the United States would attack Yemen, met with officials in Washington, D.C. to pledge his support against Al Qaeda. Hundreds of jihadis were rounded up and jailed without charges being brought against them.
According to The Washington Post, a new branch of Al Qaeda known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has since "escalated efforts to exploit Yemen's instability and carve out a leadership role among terrorist groups" training in the country. However, the areas where Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has settled are so remote and unknown, even to officials, that it's unclear how best to target them.
» Global Post. "The House Bin Laden built."
» Council on Foreign Relations. "Islamist Radicalism in Yemen."
» Worth, Robert F. "Is Yemen the Next Afghanistan?" The New York Times Magazine, 6 July 2010.
» BBC News. "Yemen Country Profile."
» U.S. Department of State. "Remarks at the U.S.-Islamic World Forum."
» Raghavan, Sudarsan. "Al-Qaeda Group in Yemen Gaining Prominence." The Washington Post, 28 December 2009.