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Yemen emerges as a new base for al-Qaida

This week, Need to Know examines three words you may not have heard — at all — during the long months of the midterm campaign season: “War on terror.”

For the first time since the 2002 elections, the question “Who would be the better steward of national security?” wasn’t a political issue. Among the media chattering classes, there was more discussion about witches than about al-Qaida. What that says about the national mood is debatable: Was it simply that the economic issues that face us are so all consuming they pushed out other policy questions? Or is it a matter of believing that those charged with keeping us safe are doing all they can?

One thing is certain: We may have pushed the matter of terrorism to the back burner, but those who mean us harm have not let up. And while we may be distracted in coming weeks with battles over taxes and deficits and healthcare, al-Qaida won’t be distracted. That was all too clear last week when intelligence officers in the U.S. and Britain were tipped off to a potentially catastrophic attack involving explosives on two planes bound for the United States.

Now this plot, like so many others over the past year, was believed to be hatched in Yemen, a country we need to know more about. Al-Qaida in Yemen is the focus of our regular investigative segment, The Watch List. Need to Know talks with Christopher Boucek, co-editor of the book “Yemen on the Brink” and an associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

First, some background.

Yemen, located on the tip of the Arabian Peninsula just south of Saudi Arabia, is the poorest country in the Arab world and in danger of becoming a failed state. Ten years after al-Qaida terrorists bombed the USS Cole in Yemen’s Aden harbor, killing 17 American sailors, the country has once again emerged as a major source of terrorist activity. It is believed to be the home of Anwar al-Aulaqi, the radical, American-born Muslim cleric. He is a key leader for al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, also known as AQAP, and is the only know American on the government’s list of targets for assassination.

Al-Aulaqi has called for deadly attacks on Americans and acted as a spiritual mentor to Major Nadal Hassan, the Fort Hood shooter who killed 13 people last November. U.S. officials also believe al-Aulaqi prepared the so-called “underwear bomber” last Christmas.

Last week, after the discovery of explosives on those cargo planes, Yemen put al-Aulaqi on trial in absentia for plotting to kill foreigners. The bombs were hidden inside computer ink cartridges and contained the explosive material PETN, which experts consider a hallmark of al-Qaida’s work. To understand how Yemen became home to al-Qaida in the Arab Peninsula, we explore what’s happening on the ground there. We begin just outside Sana’a, the capital.



  • Question

    Where did you guys get these footage?

  • Jonathan Gal

    No more blood for KINGS. Americans should not be fighting for Monarchies … we should either stay out of it, or else fight for free, republican forms of Government.

    Let Riyad Burn.

    Let Oil Prices Rise.

    That will stimulate our own domestic fuel boom, much needed.

  • Anonymous

    The reason that they “mean us harm” is that we are upholding a Monarchy in Saudi Arabia. Their real beef is with the Saudi Monarchy. The terrorists are Saudi Dissidents, who turned violent because they were denied their rights to free speech, free assembly, free voting, and peaceful participation in the Governance of their homeland.

    We shouldn’t be upholding a Monarchy, anyways, the terrorist problem notwithstanding.

    In my opinion the official foreign policy of the USA should be one of two options:
    1. Let Riyad, and the Saudi Tyrants BURN, or …
    2. Burn down Riyad and the Saudi Tyrants ourselves.

  • Anonymous

    Please join me in the peaceful petition of the US Government, to change our foreign policy to END our Alliance with the Saudi Monarchy.

    Monarchy is the most oppressive form of Government known to man. It is inconsistent with our founding values and principles to uphold such tyranny.

    In 1775, the Continental Congress adopted the Olive Branch Petition, the last, final attempt at peaceful disengagement from a Monarch. It is now time for the same action, with regard to the Saudi Monarchy.

  • Anonymous

    Yemen is a free republic.

    The terrorist problem is born out of Monarchical tyranny and oppression. It is the Saudi Monarchy that is the ROOT of the terror problem.

  • Anonymous

    We should support those nations, like Yemen, that are founded on the same principles as ours, namely free republicanism.

    If terminating the Saudi Monarchy causes oil prices to go up, then so be it … that is the natural price of oil. Higher oil prices will stimulate domestic fuel production.

  • Muslim

    Suspicious Package to U.S. not from Yemen; Yemenia Air Cargo Director

    Mohammed al-Shaibah, Air Cargo Director for Yemenia Airways said to Yemen Post, “No UPS cargo plane left Yemeni lands over the land 48 hours. These accusations are false and baseless.”
    He added, “No UPS or DHL cargo packages heading to Chicago through Yemen took place in the last 48 hours as well.”

    “All packages are checked very carefully in Yemen, and there is no evidence to prove that this package came through Yemen.”
    CNN reported the suspicious package, which contained a “manipulated” toner cartridge, tested negative for explosive material, the source said, but it led to heightened inspection of arriving cargo flights in Newark, New Jersey, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and a UPS truck in New York.

    The cargo director of Yemenia Airways said that there have been no UPS or DHL flights out of Yemen 48 hours prior to the events.

    This is the problem when people listen to the official story without investigating.


    Al-Qaidah is a myth, a fiction concocted to scare the people in America and give pretext to the US Defense Department to launch offensive invasions of lands in the Middle East and far Asia.

  • Muslim

    Financial Times article stating that President Obama needs a 9/11 type event in order to rouse political support:

    From Financial Times

    “The bottom line here is that Americans don’t believe in President Obama’s leadership,” says Rob Shapiro, another former Clinton official and a supporter of Mr Obama. “He has to find some way between now and November of demonstrating that he is a leader who can command confidence and, short of a 9/11 event or an Oklahoma City bombing, I can’t think of how he could do that.”

  • Muslim

    Architects and Engineers for 9/11 truth.

    What do Architects and Engineers who have studied the documents and official pronouncements have said about the events of 9/11 and the truth in the claim that fire brought on by jet fuel is the cause of collapse of the Twin Towers: