Yemen claimed success in foiling an al-Qaeda plot overnight, one apparently separate from the terrorist group’s pending attack on American assets that has 19 embassies shuttered. (Recall that the plot that has the US and UK worried specifically involved attacks against Western interests, unless that intel was misread.) Security forces in the Arabian nation have disrupted a plan to target the oil industry and seize control of several small towns, but they’re not sharing any of the details:
Yemen’s foreign minister confirmed to CBSNews.com on Wednesday that his nation’s security forces had disrupted an al Qaeda plot targeting his country’s oil infrastructure and cities.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Abu-Bakr Al-Qirbi confirmed information given to the BBC by a Yemeni government spokesman earlier Wednesday.
The BBC quoted spokesman Rajeh Badi as saying the elaborate plot involved blowing up pipelines and attempting to seize key parts of cities vital to the impoverished Arab nation’s oil trade.
“There were attempts to control key cities in Yemen like Mukala and Bawzeer,” Badi told the British broadcaster. “This would be coordinated with attacks by al Qaeda members on the gas facilities in Shebwa city and the blowing up of the gas pipe in Belhaf city.”
The BBC’s report did not include information on how the Yemeni security services had disrupted the alleged plot, or whether they were helped in any operations by U.S. forces.
Al-Qirbi told CBSNews.com he was unable to provide further information on how the operation to disrupt the plot, and he also could not say whether Yemen’s security forces had received any assistance from the United States or any other country.
If AQ planned on executing both plots at the same time, then it’s not much wonder that they staged the eleven jailbreaks over the past four weeks before putting either in motion. This plot alone would explain why the jailbreaks had to come first. It takes a lot of boots on the ground to control a town, let alone multiple cities with strategic value, and systematically attack the oil-industry infrastructure in Yemen. Without the hundreds of extra fighters in the mix — perhaps just to fill in elsewhere while AQAP recalled other fighters from Iraq and Libya for this plot — such an ambitious offensive couldn’t even get off the ground.
Of course, that also reminds us that this isn’t an “affiliate” effort. That kind of coordination either had to come from above AQAP — assuming the Yemenis are telling the truth about the scope of the plot — or AQAP is the new “core” of AQ. Either way, the jailbreaks alone show just how dangerous AQ has grown in the last couple of years.
The US has been busy in Yemen, too. A series of drone strikes in the last 24 hours has killed at least six more suspected AQ operatives, targeting and destroying two vehicles in which they had been riding: