The country of Yemen has foiled a plot by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (also known as Ansar al-Sharia). The plot comes in the wake of warnings from al Qaeda that would impact travelling Americans, as well as the shutting down of many American embassies in Africa and the Middle East.
Considered the most active and dangerous cell in the international terror syndicate, 3 operatives of AQAP were nabbed with “weapons, explosives, and maps of foreign enemies,” according to a report to Yemeni news agency SABA. The operatives also had marked the houses of other important individuals on their map.
The Hill says that the planned response was most likely a retaliation for a recent offensive conducted by the Yemeni military in joint operation with U.S. drones and intelligence, all as part of a coordinated assault on AQAP-related targets in the Yemeni region.
NBC reports Rajeh Badi, a press advisor to Yemen’s prime minister, as saying to Reuters that the plot would have involved “dozens of al Qaeda militants dressed in Yemeni army uniforms on the night of the 27th of Ramadan… the plot aimed to seize the al-Dabbah oil export terminal in Hadramout and the Balhaf gas export facility, as well as the city of Mukalla.”
The Balhaf gas plant is a $4.5 billion facility, and is considered one of the most strategic projects in Yemen. The al-Dabbah oil export terminal is equally as strategic, as oil and gas represent 70 percent of Yemen’s exports and about 90 percent of Yemen’s foreign currency revenue. The al Qaeda takeover failed because of heightened security and tighter entry control, specifically for these two facilities.
The Christian Science Monitor finds it interesting that the foiled attacks are coming in the wake of the NSA leaking scandal, implying that more cynical commentators believe the opportunity is ripe for the NSA to highlight its more useful procedures while pushing its Orwellian programs to the back-burner. The U.S. has launched four drone strikes in the last 10 days, which have apparently killed one terrorist per strike.