US considering CIA targeted killings in Yemen

Yemen

Yemen

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
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”. Read more of this post

Obama extends ‘war on terrorism’ theater to Yemen

Sa’dah insurgents

Sa’dah rebels

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Think what you like about Barack Obama. The fact is, his administration is currently overseeing the most rapid expansion in the nine-year history of Washington’s so-called ‘war on terrorism’. The operations theater of this ever-expanding war now includes territories deep inside Pakistan (not just near the Afghan borderlands), as well as parts of Saudi Arabia and Yemen. With respect to the latter, intelNews is one of a handful of specialized outlets that began paying attention to US involvement there before the US airstrikes of last December, which in the eyes of the Arab world, formalized America’s military presence in the country. As predicted at the time, the strikes, which were accompanied by a Saudi military invasion of Yemen, became a rallying cry for both Sunni and Shiite Islamists in the Yemen-Saudi border, and have caused increased activity by both Shiite (Sa’dah insurgency) and Sunni (al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, known as AQAP) militants. Read more of this post

Yemen Islamists sentenced for “illegal” Israel contacts

al-Haidari

al-Haidari

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
On January 10, I reported on the arrests in Yemen of three individuals, who were accused by Yemen’s President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, of working for “an Islamist terrorist cell with links to Israeli intelligence”. Prosecutors told a Yemeni court that one of the arrestees, Bassam al-Haidari (a.k.a. Abu al-Ghaith), 26, communicated with Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert via email, offering to collaborate with Israeli authorities prior to the September 17, 2008, attack on the US Embassy in Yemen’s capital Sana’a. The intercepted emails allegedly show that al-Haidari wrote to Olmert “[w]e are the Organisation of Islamic Jihad and you are Jews, but you are honest, and we are ready to do anything”. The Yemeni government claims that Olmert (or, more likely, someone from Israeli intelligence who was forwarded al-Haidari’s message) actually wrote back telling al-Haidari “[w]e are ready to support you […] as an agent”. On Monday, a Yemeni court sentenced al-Haidari to death for “making illegal contact with the Zionist Jewish Israeli entity” (Yemen does not recognize Israel). Al-Haidari’s co-defendants, Imad al-Rimi, 23, and Ali al-Mahfal, 24, were given five-year and three-year prison terms. Speaking on behalf of Ehud Olmert, Mark Regev dismissed the Yemeni government’s allegations as “completely far-fetched”. However, as I explained last January, if true, Yemen’s accusations will not signify the first time that Israeli intelligence agencies have actively supported militant Islamist groups in the Middle East. Meanwhile, the three Yemeni defendants have vowed to appeal.

Analysis: Why is Yemen Accusing Israel of Ties to Islamist Groups?

There is admittedly nothing new about the discovery of yet another Islamic militant cell in Yemen. Significant al-Qaeda presence has long been detected in that country. Eyebrows are bound to be raised, however, at news of a recent formal accusation by the Yemeni government that Israel offered to assist Islamist militants who had “prepared […] car bombs to attack governmental buildings and embassies”. Bizarrely, three Islamist militants arrested last week have been accused by Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh of working for “a terrorist cell with links to Israeli intelligence, [which] ha[s] been dismantled”. On January 10, a Yemeni court heard that one of the accused militants communicated with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert via email, offering to collaborate with Israeli authorities in 2008. These allegations may seem ludicrous, to say the least. However, if true, they will not signify the first time that Israeli intelligence agencies have actively supported militant Islamist groups in the Middle East. Surprised? Joseph Fitsanakis explains.