The British embassy in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa closed its doors Monday, April 26, after one or more al Qaeda suicide bombers attacked the ambassador's convoy outside the heavily fortified building and its gunmen were repelled by embassy guards. According to first reports, one person was killed, but Ambassador Tim Torlot is safe.
debkafile's counter-terror sources report that the security situation in the Red Sea republic has deteriorated substantially despite the Yemeni offensive to crush al Qaeda strongholds in the country backed by US and British military and intelligence strength. One cause, according to debkafile's intelligence sources, is the extra boost al Qaeda gained from US funds which Yemen president Abdullah Ali Salah secretly diverted to the Islamists in the mistaken hope that they would remove their bases from Yemen and relocate in Somalia.
Failing to eradicate the al Qaeda presence by force, Salah summoned the tribal chiefs harboring al Qaeda centers and through them offered to pay the Islamists to leave the country. The bribe of an estimated $15-20 million was accepted and on April 7, 12 al Qaeda leaders, presenting themselves to the Somali Al-Shebab Islamist rebels as emissaries of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), turned up in Somalia to scout suitable areas under rebel control for new bases, their pockets well lined with US dollars to pay for their lease.
Our counter-terror sources report that the al Qaeda group, which is still traveling around Somalia, has no intention of liquidating its bastions in Yemen, but is using the windfall for expansion to Somalia.
US intelligence has long been aware of the operational and logistic ties between AQAP and the Somali movement. Investigation of the failed Detroit-bound airliner bombing last Christmas by the Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab disclosed that he set out on his suicide mission from Somalia, not Yemen, as previously reported, and there too he picked up the elements of the explosive charge hidden in his pants.
The attack on the British diplomatic convoy in Sanaa was not unexpected. Some days ago, the Foreign Office issued an advisory against travel to Yemen "due to the high threat of terrorism, kidnapping and tribal violence against western and British interests."