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Clinton Says Al-Qaeda In Yemen Poses 'Global' Threat

  • Andrew Tully

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says Yemen could become a base of terrorist activity.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says Yemen could become a base of terrorist activity.

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the increased Al-Qaeda activity in Yemen poses a threat that goes beyond that country and the Middle East at large.

Clinton made the remarks January 4 at the State Department following a meeting with the prime minister of Qatar, Hamad Bin Jassim Jabr al-Thani.

"We see global implications from the war in Yemen and the ongoing efforts by Al-Qaeda in Yemen to use it as a base for terrorist attacks far beyond the region," she said.

The U.S. secretary of state spoke just hours after Yemeni authorities announced they had killed two Al-Qaeda militants in a raid near Sanaa, the capital of Yemen.

Clinton praised Yemen's efforts against the group that calls itself Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, but said the potential threat is so great that representatives of the international community will press the Yemeni government to act more forcefully at a meeting later this month in London.

"It's time for the international community to make it clear to Yemen that there are expectations and conditions on our continuing support for the government so that they can take actions which will have a better chance to provide that peace and stability to the people of Yemen and the region," she said.

Warnings Unheeded

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula said last week that it was behind the December 25 attempt to blow up a plane from Amsterdam as it prepared to land in the northern U.S. city of Detroit.

The 23-year-old Nigerian bombing suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was not on a list that would have prevented him from boarding a U.S. airliner, but he had previously been singled out as a potential threat to U.S. security.

U.S. officials say Abdulmutallab's father had told authorities in Nigeria that his son had become radicalized and might resort to violence.

The White House says it plans to try Abdulmutallab in a federal civilian court and offer him leniency if he tells investigators what he knows about who was responsible for his recruitment and training.

On January 3, the United States closed its embassy in Sanaa because of threats of violence from Al-Qaeda. Britain and France have followed suit.

Speaking that same day on the NBC news program, "Meet the Press," President Barack Obama's deputy national security adviser on terrorism, John O. Brennan, said the United States had no choice.

"We know that [Al-Qaeda] have been targeting our embassy, our embassy personnel, and we want to make sure we do everything possible to safeguard our diplomats and others that are down there. So, that was the prudent step to take," he said.

Security Review Underway

The U.S. intelligence community has come under heavy scrutiny for not sharing information they had on Abdulmutallab, which some believe might have kept him off the Christmas Day flight.

Obama himself has said a "systemic failure" by U.S. intelligence agencies allowed Abdulmutallab to board the U.S.-bound plane, which he has called "totally unacceptable."

In her brief remarks, Clinton defended the work of her own agency, saying the State Department had done all it could. But she said that didn't mean the United States shouldn't review its security protocol with an eye toward improving it.

"Based on what we know now, the State Department fully complied with the requirements set forth in the interagency process as to what should be done when a threat is -- or when information about a potential threat is known," she said, adding, "But we're looking to see whether those procedures need to be changed."

That review will begin Tuesday, when Obama -- just back from an 11-day holiday in Hawaii -- convenes the first of two White House meetings this week of his National Security Council Principals Committee.