Yemen to expand anti-terror forces to fight al Qaeda

Reuters, Saturday 25 Dec 2010

Yemen decided to establish a special anti terrorism forces to handle its fight against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula

Yemen said on Saturday it planned to set up special anti-terrorism forces in four of its restless provinces to fight al Qaeda's resurgent regional wing, which has become a focus of Western security concerns.

The announcement came a day after Washington said U.S. President Barack Obama's top counterterrorism adviser had pressed Yemen to step up its efforts against the militant group.

The elite units are to be established in the provinces of Shabwa, Abyan, Hadramout and Maarib and will be trained to confront al Qaeda and help "eradicate the scourge of terrorism", the Yemeni Interior Ministry said on its website.

On Friday, the White House said John Brennan, an Obama aide at the centre of U.S. intelligence efforts to thwart attacks by militants, had spoken with Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Brennan called to "emphasize the importance of taking forceful action against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in order to thwart its plans to carry out terrorist attacks in Yemen as well as in other countries, including in the U.S. homeland," the White House said.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which is based in Yemen, has emerged as a major international security concern since it claimed responsibility for last December's botched attempt to bomb a Detroit-bound aircraft.

Brennan said last week that U.S.-Yemen relations had been strained by Washington's desire for a quicker pace of economic and political reforms, which it hopes would slow recruitment by militants in the impoverished Arab country.

Relations have also been tested by WikiLeaks' disclosure of State Department cables alleging President Saleh had offered to mask U.S. strikes in Yemen on al Qaeda targets.

The fight against al Qaeda suffered in 2009 when Yemen's government diverted a counter-terrorism unit, which was funded and trained by the United States and Britain, to its war against Shi'ite rebels, according to other leaked U.S. diplomatic cables.

Search Keywords:
Short link: