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Al Qaeda’s “Final Trap” in Yemen: Costly Demise Planned for U.S.

Al Qaeda’s attack on Yemen’s capital, Sana, this week is a graphic demonstration that its franchise in Arabia is getting more dangerous, benefiting from the weakness of the Yemeni state. The U.S. is putting pressure on the jihadi network like never before, but al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) remains determined to strike us at home to drag us ever deeper into another quagmire in the Middle East.

The suicide bombing on Monday in Sana was the deadliest attack AQAP has ever carried out. It comes as government forces are trying to recover lost territory in southern Yemen that al Qaeda has seized since the Arab Spring came to Yemen a year ago. AQAP using a cover name, Ansar al Sharia, has set up seven so-called emirates in southern Yemen in the last year where it can recruit, train, and prepare its fighters and suicide bombers to strike at home and abroad. AQAP even controls some neighborhoods in Aden, the south’s largest city and port. President Obama is rightly trying to put the Arabian Humpty Dumpty back together again in Yemen so Yemeni forces will be able to disrupt, dismantle, and destroy AQAP. It’s an ambitious strategy.

Central to any chance of success for America in Yemen is close cooperation with Saudi Arabia, the rich big brother next door that most Yemenis resent. Any hope of rebuilding a stable central government will require massive amounts of Saudi aid—and this week the Saudis pledged $3.2 billion in new assistance. The joint U.S.-Saudi intelligence operation that foiled al Qaeda’s latest plan to blow up an airliner en route to America was a significant success in the now-12-year-old battle with al Qaeda in Yemen. AQAP also announced the May 6 death (by drone attack) of the airline-bomb plot’s operational mastermind, Shaykh Fahd al Quso al Awlaqi, one of the brains behind the 2000 attack on the USS Cole in Aden and the successor to the New Mexico-born Anwar al Awlaqi, who was also killed in a drone attack last year.

These successes should not obscure the fact that AQAP remains determined to carry out attacks in the United States. Three times in three years—Christmas 2009, October 2010, and now May 2012—AQAP has tried to blow up aircraft in America’s skies. Because the bomb maker Ibrahim al Asiri, who produces these weapons , remains alive and has trained a cadre of understudies in his workshops, we can assume they will try again. AQAP brags that it has already hurt America more than once. AQAP claims al Anwar Awlaki inspired the Fort Hood attack in 2009….MORE HERE