CIA Scales Back Presence And Operations In Yemen – ‘Home Of al Qaeda In The Arabian Peninsula, And Where One Of The Most Talented al Qaeda Terrorist Bomb-Makers
Greg Miller and Hugh Naylor, writing on the February 11, 2015 Washington Post website, note that “the closure of the U.S. Embassy in Sann’a Yemen, has forced the CIA to considerably scale back its counter-terrorism presence in te country,” according to former and current U.S officials — who added that the evacuation “represents a major setback in operations against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) — al Qaeda’s most dangerous affiliate.”
According to the Washington Post, the CIA “has pulled dozens of operatives, analysts, and other staffers from Yemen, as part of a broader extraction of roughly 200 Americans, who had been based at the U.S. Embassy in Sanna. Among those removed, were senior officers who worked closely with Yemen’s intelligence and security services to target al Qaeda operatives; and, disrupt terrorism plots aimed at the United States”
Mr. Miller and Mr. Naylor write that “the departures were triggered by mounting concerns over security in Yemen’s capital, where Houthi rebels have effectively toppled the government. Britain and France said Wednesday said that they would also close, as new photos appeared showing Houthi rebels driving off in vehicles that had been abandoned when the U.S. Embassy evacuated, and departed the country.
“The collapse of the Yemen’s government had already disrupted some U.S. counter-terrorism efforts in Yemen; and, the closure of the U.S. Embassy staff and CIA personnel, — “is extremely damaging,” to the CIA’a mission in Yemen,” said a former U.S. official involved in the effort.” That official added that “the embassy had served as the primary base in Yemen for U.S. intelligence operations in Yemen; and that, “the political turmoil in Sanna, and the closure of the embassy….all play into the hands of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), as the Yemeni affiliate is known.”
U.S. officials emphasized that “not all CIA personnel were withdrawn from Yemen,” adding that “the agency would try and salvage an intelligence network that it had assembled in cooperation with Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and other Gulf allies over the past five years.”
As the Washington Post notes, “al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, in Yemen, has been linked to a series of bombing plots against the United States, including the failed attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day in 2009. More recently, the group claimed responsibility for last month’s terrorist attack in Paris, France — although whether it was directly involved in the coordination of those assaults remains unclear.”
“Pentagon officials acknowledged that U.S. Special Operations teams are still in Yemen; and, continuing to work with the country’s counter-terrorism units outside the capital. But, U.S. officials acknowledged that those operations ave been impaired by political turmoil; and, any deterioration in intelligence would also affect a parallel drone program in Yemen, operated by the U.S. military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC).
“New video footage from Sanna, showed abandoned weapons at the U.S. diplomatic compound; but, a u.S. military spokesman said that all weapons left at the embassy, or airport had been destroyed…or, rendered inoperable,” according to the Post. Let’s hope so. V/R, RCP