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Al-Qaida's attacks in Yemen urge security services to change tactics

06-28-2010 15:30 BJT

by Mohamed al-Azaki, Wang Qiuyun

SANAA, June 27 (Xinhua) -- A suspected al-Qaida's spectacular break into the highly-guarded intelligence headquarters in south Yemen raises questions on whether this reflects deterioration in the Yemeni security capability.

Some anti-terrorism analysts, however, said Yemen still held the necessary security capabilities to confront terrorist threats, but challenges also existed as the government's long-year absence in the country's remote and unruly regions was exploited by al- Qaida in extending its horizontal influence and recruitment there.

On June 19, a group of gunmen stormed the intelligence headquarters in the southern port city of Aden, for which the Yemeni government blamed al-Qaida.


"The attack that took place on Saturday, June 19, left seven security guards, three women and a child killed, which bears the characteristic of al-Qaida terrorist group," the Yemeni supreme security committee said in a statement published by the country's Defense Ministry's website.

The gunmen, wearing security uniforms and armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, drove speedily with two cars towards the main gate of the headquarters and broke into it, according to the Defense Ministry.

It is regarded as one of the boldest attack, by which al-Qaida, according to analysts, sought to discredit the capabilities of security apparatus after the group received painful blows in recent weeks.

"This tragic incident underlines the ability of al-Qaida to penetrate one of the most highly-guarded security buildings," said analyst Mohammed Saif Haidar of the Sanaa-based Sheba Center for Strategic Studies.

"And this does not necessarily reflect a setback for the Yemeni security capabilities as security services carried out a large number of successful anti-terror operations during the past seven months and tightened the noose on the al-Qaida militants and inflicted heavy losses against them," he said.


Yemen's Western allies, neighboring top oil exporter Saudi Arabia and the United States paid more attention to the Yemeni security affairs after the Yemen-based al-Qaida boasted that it was behind a failed attempt to destroy a U.S. passenger plane bound for Detroit in December, 2009.

"Acting on the advice of Washington and Riyadh, Sanaa is concentrating to cement ceasefire deal with Shiite rebels in the north and is engaging in a peace-bound talks with secessionists in the south in order to focus on its war with al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)," said colonel Mohammed Rajih, an analyst of the security affairs at the Interior Ministry.

"Such strategic, of course, is yielding good results and allowing the security services to enjoy a high level of readiness and preparedness until now," said Rajih.

However, Haidar added "the attack targeted the intelligence headquarters in Aden indicates that the terrorist network does not concentrate its attacks on Western interests only, it pays more attention to the local governmental targets such as security and oil vital sectors."

On June 13, the Yemeni ruling party's website reported that al- Qaida group killed 37 senior army and security officers during the past three years.

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