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Tuesday, August 06, 2013

US orders its citizens out of Yemen as al-Qaeda develops exploding clothes

Remember the underwear bomber (pictured)? He's in the news again. You'll see why in a minute.

After a drone strike killed four al-Qaeda terrorists in Yemen, the United States has ordered all its citizens and all 'non-essential personnel' to leave that country immediately.
The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the high security threat level in Yemen due to terrorist activities and civil unrest. The Department urges U.S. citizens to defer travel to Yemen and those U.S. citizens currently living in Yemen to depart immediately. 

On August 6, 2013, the Department of State ordered the departure of non-emergency U.S. government personnel from Yemen due to the continued potential for terrorist attacks.  

U.S. citizens currently in Yemen should depart. As staff levels at the Embassy are restricted, our ability to assist U.S. citizens in an emergency and provide routine consular services remains limited and may be further constrained by the fluid security situation. This supersedes the Travel Warning for Yemen issued on July 16, 2013.      
On Monday, ABC News reported that the intercepted 'chatter' of al-Qaeda operatives - which led to a shutdown of US embassies all over the Middle East and to a worldwide terror warning - was discussion of a new and harder-to-stop method of suicide bombing: Implanting the bomb inside the terrorist's body (Hat Tip: Legal Insurrection).
The senior U.S. official said there is concern about devices that could be implanted inside the body of a terrorist.

“We are concerned about surgically implanted devices,” they said. “These are guys who have developed the techniques to defeat our detection methods.”
The official also said authorities were stunned that the group broke “operational security” — meaning they talked likely knowing it would be picked up by intercepts.
The man behind the technique, and who may have been the target of Tuesday's drone strike, is Ibrahim al-Asiri. Asiri, a Saudi (what else?), is al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's chief bombmaker, and was behind the bomb hidden in the underwear of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in December 2009.

If that's not enough, ABC News is also now reporting that al-Qaeda has developed a method of dipping clothes into a liquid that will make them explosive when they dry.
Though the Transportation Security Administration has long been concerned about liquid explosives being used in potential devices -- as it was during the failed Christmas Day bombing in 2009 -- the new tactic allows terrorists to dip ordinary clothing into the liquid to make the clothes themselves into explosives once dry.

"It's ingenious," one of the officials said.

Another senior official said that the tactic would not be detected by current security measures.

The officials said the new technique is believed to have been developed by the Yemen-based al Qaeda affiliate al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), home to notorious alleged bomb maker Ibrahim al-Asiri. Al-Asiri is suspected of being the mastermind behind several devious explosive devices including the underwear bomb and surgically implanted body bombs.

Al-Asiri was listed today among Yemen's 25 top terrorists, who the Yemeni government said were planning to carry out operations in the capital, Sana'a. The Yemeni government is offering 5 million Yemeni rials, or $23,000, for information leading to the capture of any of the terrorists.
Wait a minute - didn't al-Qaeda die with Osama Bin Laden and President Hussein Obama's declaring 'victory' in the war on terror? Not exactly....
Nada Bakos, a former CIA analyst who was part of the team that hunted Osama bin Laden for years, told ABC News that any suggestion al Qaeda as a whole was down and out and is now seeing a resurgence is wrong. Instead, she said the group has just been undergoing a metamorphosis.
"An ideology has tentacles. That's why it's hard to predict how or if it will grow," she said. "Each of these groups [al Qaeda affiliates] are funded and operate independently, but they all share the same ideological platform that central al Qeada has propagated since the 1990s."
Seth Jones, associate director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the RAND Corporation, testified before Congress last month that despite the "weakness" of central al Qaeda, "there has been a net expansion in the number and geographic scope of al Qaeda's affiliates and allies over the past decade, indicating that al Qaeda and its brand are far from defeated."
Michael Scheuer, a former CIA officer who led the hunt for bin Laden before his retirement in 2004, went further, telling ABC News that he believed al Qaeda really hasn't changed since bin Laden's death.
"I think the guys on the ground [local affiliate commanders], day-to-day tactical decisions were made there, where they always have been," he said. "Core al Qaeda lays down the guidelines to keep everybody pointed at the enemy."
Scheuer said he believes al Qaeda is more dangerous under its currently leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, than it was under bin Laden. Zawahiri, Scheuer said, may settle for smaller U.S.-based operations that would have a much smaller body count than a 9/11-type operation that bin Laden aspired to repeat.
There's only one way to stop terrorists - the Israeli way. The problem is that with these methods they could blow themselves up without ever leaving the airport. But then that wouldn't be as spectacular and may not kill as many people.

What could go wrong?


The UK has now ordered all its citizens to leave Yemen as well.

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