Friday, August 31, 2012


In SANAA, Yemen, a drone strike hit a vehicle carrying  militants traveling in eastern Yemen. Eight militants were killed and this marks the third such strike this week. The drone targeted a vehicle in Hadramawt in eastern Yemen.

The U.S. considers the local al Qaeda branch the world's most active and has used drones in the past to go after its members. Seven other suspected militants have been killed in air strikes in the area since Tuesday. Yemen's government has intensified its campaign against militant groups, backed by U.S. advice and logistical support. Militants have carried out several attacks in retaliation.
OSINT NEWS researched drone usage in Yemen a half year ago, and we offer 8 observations that indicate the CIA is deeply involved in Yemen and, probably, will remain there for years to come. We hope they are. How about you? Take the poll- you can make a comment on it, too:




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8 reasons OSINT News believes the CIA will remain deeply involved in Yemen:
1. We made a commitment. Several years ago, Gerald Feierstein, the new U.S. ambassador to Yemen, said the U.S. was  committed to support the Yemeni army and security forces in their efforts to combat the burgeoning al Qaeda force.

Feierstein stated, "There is a deep concern that al Qaeda could work freely in Yemen. We understand that fighting extremism cannot be through security only and it should include economic and development reforms. This is what America is committed to directly or through the Friends of Yemen Group.”

The Friends of Yemen Group is comprised of nations looking to help stabilize Yemen so al Qaeda and other terrorist groups will fail to develop a lasting stronghold there. They voiced their support for the security and stability of the Arabian Peninsula nation.

He went on to say, “America emphasizes its commitment to supporting the Yemeni Government and its people to overcome al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, to secure Yemeni borders, continue to train Yemeni anti-terrorist forces in addition to the provision of necessary equipments to get rid of the immediate threats posed by al Qaeda.”

At that time, Yemen’s President Saleh’s ensured that his government would take all necessary measures against terrorists and extremists and they welcomed Feierstein’s statement. Saleh added that he will support all measures mentioned by President Obama. A roughly $1.2 billion assistance bundle was being considered by Washington at that time. Feierstein said much will go to establishing a security department not to fight terrorists directly but to revitalize Yemeni forces and to battle the fight against drugs.

2. Numbers on the ground. Currently, the CIA has expanded the number of case officers collecting intelligence in Yemen. These intelligence officers, along with special ops and military intel, are brave souls. Al Qaeda in Yemen injured 10 intelligence officers, 3 seriously, on September 25, 2009 in the capital, Sana’a. The attack came just after American instructors finished a training course on fighting terrorism. 

An intelligence officer, Abdullah Ba Sharaheel, was murdered when two gunmen opened fire on him in the city of Al Mukalla. He was on his way home with his family when the Al Qaeda gunmen attacked on motorcycles and shot him.

3. The Arabian Peninsula is where al-Qaeda fled. Little wonder CIA analysts are focusing more on al Qaeda’s offshoots, in addition to the small, inner core group, which may still be housed in the tribal areas of Pakistan (Although, maybe not, after bin Laden's death). These offshoots are becoming more of a threat to America’s security. Their fears have influenced President Obama’s tactical measures in Yemen, for clandestine U.S. military strikes and armed CIA drone attacks on terrorists commenced. 

Al Qaeda has always aspired, but failed, to create a safe haven in the beginning, that is.  From 2001 to 2004, when Edmund J. Hull was the American ambassador to Yemen, U.S. and Yemeni counterterrorism efforts defeated al Qaeda at every turn, severely degrading its capabilities. During this period, al Qaeda mounted no successful operations against U.S. interests in Yemen and suffered the loss of its top leadership and cadres.

Unfortunately, things have changed. Their influence there is boiling over today. CIA analysts believe effective drone strikes in Pakistan have kept al Qaeda from recovering the offensive game. So, they migrated to the Arabian Peninsula and the new Yemen-based group is called Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). They succeeded in getting the Xmas day suicide bomber aboard the plane bound for Detroit. Analysts also believe the deceased Anwar al-Awlaki helped transform the AQAP into a transnational threat. OSINT News believes that, although the CIA has 10 times more people and resources in Pakistan than it does in Yemen, the figures will soon be the same. The National Security Council met with White House officials and it was decided that the CIA will play a major operational role in Yemen.

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4. We're not battling nation states anymore; we're fighting terrorist networks. And, they're sprouting up around the world faster than Chicken Delight franchises. Yemen is a pilot be expanded, globally. No longer will America send in armored marine divisions. Instead, small, covert operations will expand globally where we gather intelligence, then apply it with lightening strike, in/out, inexpensive operations using spec ops.

Philip Mudd, a former senior official at the CIA and the FBI, believes that a Sept. 11-style attack has been supplanted by a proliferation of plots by AQAP and other affiliate networks. He stated, "The sheer numbers suggest that one of the plots in the United States will succeed. In the future the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region will not be the sole, or even primary, source of bombing suspects" (CTC Sentinel). Mudd's observation is another reason why OSINT News believes the U.S. should adopt Britain's MI5 model in its counterterrorism and counterintelligence at home.

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5. Yemen needs stabilization. The reasons behind the current political and social chaos in Yemen is complex, with much historical causations that are an expression of authoritarian rule. And, al Qaeda takes advantage of chaos. Unrest continues to boil. While we were gathering OSINT intelligence a year ago, a gunmen killed a senior Yemeni intelligence officer in the main southern city of Aden, the latest in a spate of assassinations to hit the south, a security official said. Lieutenant Colonel Ali Ahmed Abd Rabbo was driving along the main coast road on Sunday evening when protesters blocked his way.

"As soon as his car stopped, gunmen opened fire, riddling the vehicle with bullets and killing the colonel". It was unclear whether the gunmen were from among the demonstrators or militants who had infiltrated the protest.

Several days later, army Colonel Naji Aitha escaped with minor injuries when militants detonated explosives outside his home, while fighting raged for the Abyan provincial capital of Zinjibar, where troops had been trying to dislodge al Qaeda linked militants.

At that time, a year ago, 230 Yemeni soldiers and 50 tribal auxiliaries had been killed in the battle for Zinjibar.

6. Anwar al-Awlaki resided there. His role in the global al Qaeda jihad was real, and just because a drone attack killed him, he was the "who's who" of jihadi attackers against the West. His DVDs and taped sermons on jihad were found in the computers of the US army officer responsible for the Fort Hood shootings, Major Nidal Hassan; underpants bomber Abdulmuttallab; and Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad. These DVDs and taped sermons are still used today to perpetuate hatred against the West, particularly the U.S.

7. CIA expanding operations there. Al Qaeda swarmed to Yemen. So, we should, too. As OSINT News was researching the AQAP, a group of construction workers in the Arabian Peninsula was hard at work constructing a secret CIA runway that would heavily ramp up drone strikes in Yemen designed to target al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The runway and  campaign is run by the CIA, which has been increasing the use of drone strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan. OSINT News studied a wall chart  that shows al Qaeda's presence in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), including their organizational structure, key leadership figures, official media arm, Military Division, Research and Development Division,  Shura Council, and AQAP attacks (Delta Christmas attack,  attempted assassination of Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, etc). It was a vast mosaic of networking genius, to say the least.

8. We feel justified to be in Yemen. And why not? Virtually every attempted terrorist attack against the West by Salafist jihadis since 2009 has had some association with AQAP or with the deceased and incredibly influential   Islamic cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki.

AQAP is the most internationally active of the various al Qaeda branches and, as mentioned previously, has been involved in the 2009 attempted ''underpants'' bombing by Umar Farouk Abdulmuttallab, as well as the 2010 cargo bomb plot.

For these 8 reasons, OSINT NEWS believes the CIA will continue increasing operations and will remain in Yemen for a long time.

Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. is a member of the Association For Intelligence Officers (AFIO) and writes about the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC). A portion of Ad revenues generated on this site is donated to the AFIO. His ideas are his own and do not represent those of any organization he's a member of. We will publish your ideas and comments at no charge...for the good of the order! Contact us on the Secure Contact Form

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