Yemen's air strike on Al Qaeda may signal new US focus
Yemen's air strike Thursday targeting Al Qaeda hideouts and perhaps Anwar al-Awlaki, the cleric linked to the Fort Hood shooter, was the second conducted with US assistance in a week.
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The air strikes on Al Qaeda hideouts, the second in a week conducted by the Yemeni government with US assistance, may have also targeted Anwar al-Awlaki, an American cleric living in Yemen. The Washington Post, which has reporters on the ground in Yemen, said that as many as 30 suspected militants were killed. It was not clear if Mr. al-Awlaki, who had extensive contact with Hasan over the last year, was killed in the attack.
The Post cited a local news source with ties to the government as saying that the Awlaki property in Shabwa province was “raided and demolished”; but it also quoted family members of al-Awlaki saying they did not believe the cleric was at the location targeted.
It was the second such strike in a week, and though US officials won't confirm their involvement, increased military aid for Yemen this year suggests a new US focus in the war on terrorism.
Last week, an air strike appeared to have taken out more than a couple dozen militants based on operations using American firepower and intelligence sought by the Yemeni government.
On Thursday, US government officials issued statements in support of Yemen. “We strongly support Yemeni actions against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula which poses a serious threat to Yemeni, US and regional interests,” said one official in Washington.
Links to Fort Hood
Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, is the alleged shooter in the Fort Hood rampage Nov. 5 that took the lives of 13 soldiers and injured 30 more. Hasan was in contact via e-mail to al-Awlaki, a Yemeni American whose preachings are sympathetic to Al Qaeda. The e-mails were intercepted by Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) officials in December last year but held to be harmless.
However, ABC reported Thursday that in an interview with Al Jazeera earlier this week, the preacher claimed Hasan had asked in an e-mail whether it was OK to kill fellow US soldiers, among other things.