Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Yemen airstrike kills al Qaida team

One of the Americans' fleet of Predator unmanned drones which have targeted militants in Yemen (AP)

Five al Qaida militants have been killed by an airstrike in the south of Yemen, officials say.

The attack came days after details emerged about a Saudi mole within the network who reportedly provided information allowing the CIA to target one of its key leaders.

There was no immediate word from Washington on whether it was behind the latest pre-dawn strike, which destroyed a house in which the five were staying on the western outskirts of the town of Jaar. The town has been held by al Qaida militants for a year.

The identity of the five militants was not immediately known, but the officials said one of them might have been a senior member of the terror network in charge of armament.

The United States has usually used drones to strike al Qaida in Yemen. The security officials did not say whether it was carried out by piloted planes or drones.

The US and Yemen are resuming co-operation in the fight against al Qaida, which has taken advantage of the political turmoil in the country to capture territory and plot attacks against US targets.

Co-operation was suspended nearly a year ago during the popular uprising against the authoritarian regime of former leader Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Yemen has been a source of serious concern to Washington because it was the launching pad for two foiled al Qaida attacks on US territory that were potentially disastrous: the Christmas 2009 attempt to down an American airliner over Detroit with an underwear bomb and the sending of printer cartridges packed with explosives to Chicago-area synagogues in 2010.

The CIA this week thwarted a plot by al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula to destroy a US-bound airliner using a bomb described as an improvement on the 2009 underwear bomb because of the absence of metal which could have made it undetectable by conventional airport scanners.

The would-be bomber was actually a double-agent working for Saudi Arabia's security services. Saudi officials worked with the CIA to deliver the sophisticated new bomb directly to the US government. He reportedly provided intelligence that helped the CIA kill al Qaida's senior operations leader, Fahd al-Quso, who died in a drone strike last weekend.

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