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Havens for Terrorists in Yemen

Updated on December 30, 2009

 Yemen is located at the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula.  It is a poor Muslim country  of 23 million with a weak central government, armed tribal groups in outlying areas, and porous borders, which makes it fertile ground for terrorists. Yemen-based corporations are thought to help fund Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda terrorist network. Dozens of al-Qaeda operatives, including senior officials, may be at large in Yemen. Historically,  Yemen was second only to Saudi Arabia in being the source of soldiers for the International Islamist brigade that fought against Soviet forces in Afghanistan and that gave birth to al-Qaeda in the 80s.  Al-Qaeda reportedly has several major training camps in Yemen and the Middle East terrorist group, Hamas, is a legal business entity there where much of its funds are procured. Yemen is like a poor man in a rich man's neighborhood, it has dwindling oil reserves, its only source of income. Even water is scarce. Thus, waging a war on a wily coyote like al-Qaeda is NOT the first or second or third thing the Yemen government wants to do in terms of priority.

Just last week, Yemen coordinated with the US and attacked a well known  meeting with key pro al-qaeda members were, one was US born, al-Awlaki was born in New Mexico and attended Colorado State University before moving in 2002 to Yemen. He is just one of at least 100 other US radicalized citizens there. The Pentagon recently confirmed it is has poured nearly $70 million in military aid to Yemen this year -- compared to none in 2008. Much of this aid is for training Yemen's own forces and  flying unmanned Predator drones.

Yemen and Somalia is ideal for al-Qaeda. Outside of the city of Sanaa, the government has little influence or ability to exert its power, thus, training camps and thousands of militant recruits arrive and trained and then deployed to make terrorist attacks. The next confrontation with Al-Qaeda would be in Marib Province. In recent days Al-Qaeda esca lated its activities in the tribal areas, in the (Marib — Al-Jawf — Shabua) triangle. Tribes in Marib, talk about unidentified jets flying above the tribal areas in the province. Inside Yemen, there are warring factions or separtists who do not follow what happens in the capital of Sanaa or between the tribes within the country. All this makes for a very complicated war on al-Qaeda that has many tribal leaders on their side in numerous ways.The reemergence of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, with Yemen as a key battleground and potential regional base of operations from which Al Qaeda can plan attacks, train recruits, and facilitate movement of operatives is now there in Yemen. Some of the southern tribes are armed by al-Qaeda and some have received weapons from Iran to support a movement to overthrow the current government or to create a new state, South Yemen. If al-Qaeda succeeds in creating a South Yemen or overthrows the Yemen government, it will be major disaster for the West.

Clearly, al-Qaeda is recruiting US militant citizens for their war. Why not? Attack from within using their own unhappy citizens. This allows them to walk into the country without profiling with US passports, scout the target, plan and detonate. Sending non-US citizens to do it is fraught with suspicion and dangers. They want to blend in. Unfortunately, there are enough of these types of US citizens for al-Qaeda to recruit.

Think the TV show, 24hrs. In season 4, a nuclear device was in LA and going to be detonated. The jihadists were arab-americans, born and raised here, gone to UCLA or Stanford, in every sense, American. Yet, a few were radicalized and turned on America. Maybe next time, for real, it will be a blonde haired blue eye  American, a jock on a football team. This would be the "ideal" terrorist for al-Qaeda.

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