The director of the CIA, Leon Panetta, paid secret visits to Cairo and Jerusalem Thursday, Jan. 28, to prepare the ground for expanding US military intervention in Yemen against al Qaeda strongholds, thereby opening a fresh front in the war on Islamist terror organization.
In Cairo, he met Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, defense minister Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi and intelligence minister Gen. Omar Suleiman. They discussed an Egyptian expeditionary force for Yemen to fight al Qaeda combatants alongside US special forces. Panetta requested for the use of Egyptian military airfields as jumping-off bases for US air strikes against the terrorist strongholds.
In Jerusalem, the CIA chief exchanged evaluations on the Yemen front with Israel's intelligence leaders.
debkafile's intelligence sources report that the American military intervention in Yemen is already substantially broader than admitted. US special operations members of the CIA's combat units and drones armed with missiles, operated from Langley, Washington, are already installed at a big American base under construction near the Yemeni Red Sea port of Hodeira.
President Barack Obama resolved to expand America's involvement in Yemen after local and Saudi armies proved unequal to dealing with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula – the AQAP.