WASHINGTON D.C. — The US has reopened all but one of its embassies and consulates across the Middle East and North Africa regions after suggestions of a possible al-Qaeda terrorist attack were announced two weeks ago.
The American embassy in Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, will remain closed due to ‘ongoing concerns about a threat stream indicating the potential for terrorist attacks emanating from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula,’ explained State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki. The terrorist threat lead the US. State Department to urge all non-essential staff and citizens to evacuate Yemen immediately.
The US Consulate in Lahore, Pakistan, will also remain closed due to what Psaki cited as a ‘separate credible threat.’ US citizens were warned against travelling to the country. The closure of the US embassies and consulates took effect on August 4 and was prompted by intercepted communications between the head of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and Bin Laden’s former secretary, Nasir al-Wuhayshi, who is currently the head of al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP). Reports say that the two senior figures were discussing a plot against an embassy.
According to the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Michael McFaul, the intelligence gathered was the most ‘specific’ and ‘credible threat perhaps since 9/11.’ He added that the US was on a state of high alert.
A drone strike, suspected to be American, killed two alleged al-Qaeda militants in the southern region in Yemen last week, making it the ninth strike of its kind in a time frame of two weeks, according to military officials.
Although, the US acknowledges its usage of drones in Yemen, it does not publicly comment on individual attacks. The recent drone strikes are suspected to be related to the al-Qaeda threat against an embassy, but when asked about this during a press conference on Friday, August 9, President Obama refused to answer any questions regarding the issue.
Yemen’s Defence Minister, Major Gen. Mohammed Nasser Ahmed, met with Deputy US Ambassador, Karen Sasahara and two American security officials based in Yemen, to discuss the security situation in the country.
It has long been a suspicion by US officials that Yemen plays host to al-Qaeda. Even though details about a specific target or location of a potential attack were not attained, US officials say that there is still a threat to Western interests.
With increasing use of drone strikes in the region security remains tight in Sana’a and other cities of Yemen. Just last Sunday, suspected al-Qaeda militants killed five soldiers in an attack on a gas terminal in the southern region of the country. In addition, the intercepted communications between al-Qaeda leaders that prompted the closure of the diplomatic posts only act as further motivations for the country to continue increasing its security measures.
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