Yemen: Al-Qaeda behind attack on US embassy

A botched attack on the US embassy in Sanaa was an al-Qaeda operation, according to officials in Yemen. Terrorists shot mortar rounds at the compound but missed, hitting a nearby school instead. It killed one security guard and wounded 13 students:

An al Qaeda terror cell was behind a mortar strike against the U.S. Embassy in Yemen that missed its target but killed a security guard and wounded 13 students at a nearby school, an Interior Ministry official said Saturday.

The official, speaking on customary condition of anonymity, said al Qaeda militant Hamza al-Dayan launched three mortars at the embassy Tuesday before fleeing in a vehicle with three accomplices.

The mortar shells crashed into the school in the downtown Sawan district of Sanaa, killing the security guard and wounding 13 schoolgirls, three grievously.

On Thursday, the police arrested five suspects in the attack. It was not clear if they have any connection to al-Dayan and his men, who remain at large.

The embassy has been attacked in the past, although not necessarily by AQ. Two attacks came from single individuals, one of whom was killed and other who served seven years. AQ has a fairly strong presence in Yemen, and they did successfully attack the USS Cole in 2000 at Yemen’s port in Aden.

If this does turn out to be an AQ attack, it demonstrates a lack of skill that is pretty remarkable. Ten years ago, AQ successfully detonated massive car bombs almost simultaneously in Kenya and Tanzania, killing hundreds and seriously damaging our embassies. A decade later, when the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have supposedly served as training grounds for these terrorists, they can’t even aim a mortar properly at a stationary target.

It appears that rather than produce a more experienced and battle-hardened cadre of terrorists, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have forced AQ to use up their more experienced fighters in lopsided defeats against the West, and the trainees are all they have to use for operations elsewhere.