US considering CIA targeted killings in Yemen



The White House is considering an unprecedented expansion of operations by the Central Intelligence Agency in Yemen, following last week’s foiled toner cartridge bomb plot. There are reports that the plot, which appears to have originated in Yemen, and was foiled through a last-minute tip from Saudi intelligence, may tip the balance in Washington in favor of those wishing to enhance the CIA’s activities in Yemen’s Sunni areas. According to The Wall Street Journal, the Obama Administration is close to authorizing the CIA’s use of unmanned drones to bomb suspected targets in Yemen, something that the Agency has been doing for over a year in Pakistan. But there also appears to be a wider consensus forming in favor of authorizing covert targeted killings inside Yemen by Special Forces operating on the ground under Langley’s command. This consensus appears to be forming in both civilian and military circles in Washington, despite fears that such tactics may backlash, leading to a severance of ties between the United States and the Yemeni government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The Journal article mentions that the White House is now considering authorizing the CIA to conduct targeted killings “even without the explicit blessing of the Yemeni government”. IntelNews readers will remember this is not the first time that the Obama Administration has actively considered expanding American intelligence operations to Yemen. In February The Washington Post reported that the Obama Administration was considering doubling military assistance to Yemen from $70 to almost $150 million annually. This amount did not include covert assistance in the form of clandestine participation by the US Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), which was reportedly already in Yemen “tracking and killing suspected terrorists”. JSOC’s involvement in Yemen, which The Post described as “deep”, was almost certainly accompanied by increasing logistical support by the CIA and the National Security Agency.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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