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.