Monday, January 4, 2010
In an interview with the BBC World Service yesterday, I commented on the al Qaeda links between Somalia and Yemen. While noting that the al Qaeda threat in Yemen is far more serious than the one in Somalia, there is considerable contact between Somalis and Yemenis. More than 200,000 Somalis have taken refuge in Yemen. Although the vast majority is economic refugees, a tiny percentage has almost certainly been attracted to terrorist training camps in Yemen. In addition, a small number of Yemeni jihadis has joined al-Shabaab in Somalia, an organization that flaunts its connection with al Qaeda. Yemen is clearly the focus of U.S. interest as evidenced by recent announcements of increases in funding for Yemeni security forces and development assistance to the country. While the United States is primarily interested in Yemen because of its connection with the Nigerian suicide bomber who tried to blow up a Northwest flight to Detroit, there will probably be some spillover attention given to the situation in Somalia. Al Qaeda links with Yemen are long-standing, date back to the early 1990s and include the attack on the USS Cole off the coast of Yemen in 2000. Image: USS Cole by Flickr user mashleymorgan, licensed by Creative Commons.