Yemen shooting: Are U.S. embassy officials in the Mideast secure?
October 12, 2012
Concerns about the security of officials tied to US diplomatic missions in the Middle East - already acute - ratcheted up Thursday with the drive-by shooting of a Yemeni security officer assigned to the US Embassy in Sana.
Officials in Washington said the United States is working closely with Yemeni authorities to determine who killed Qassim Aklan, who had worked for more than a decade as a Yemeni liaison on security issues to the US Embassy in the Yemeni capital.
But the targeted shooting bore the fingerprints of Al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has stepped up a campaign of assassinations over recent months as the US has pursued government-sanctioned drone attacks on suspected AQAP targets.
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"We are coordinating closely with the Yemeni authorities to investigate this attack and to help bring those responsible to justice," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement.
AQAP previously has attempted terrorist attacks targeting the US - the foiled Christmas Day 2009 shoe bomber and October 2010 package bombs destined for a Chicago synagogue are two examples - and its successful military operations in Yemen have prompted some officials and terrorism experts to consider it Al Qaeda's most threatening regional "franchise."
The Sept. 11 deadly firebombing of the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and the takeover of northern Mali in August by Islamist radicals have shifted some attention to Al Qaeda in the Maghreb, or AQIM. The North African wing of Al Qaeda is thought to have had some degree of influence or even involvement in both of those events.
But even as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is seen as having suffered setbacks, American counterterrorism experts still generally consider ...