December 30, 2009
Washington and Sana’a are reviewing targets for a possible retaliation strike on Yemeni soil in the wake of a failed Christmas Day attack on a Detroit-bound airliner, which al-Qaeda in Yemen claims to have organized.
Two senior US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told CNN on Tuesday that the effort is aimed at devising options for the White House, in case President Barack Obama orders a retaliatory strike.
[efoods]The officials added that the effort is to see whether targets can be specifically linked to the airliner incident and its planning.
US special operations forces and intelligence agencies, and their Yemeni counterparts, are working to identify potential al-Qaeda targets in Yemen, one of the officials said.
The CNN report added that “by all accounts, the agreement would allow the US to fly cruise missiles, fighter jets or unmanned armed drones against targets in Yemen with the consent of that government.”
Investigators believe the Flight 253 bomber suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was radicalized before he went to Yemen, Fox News reported citing unnamed sources. According to one source, Abdulmutallab traveled to Yemen sometime in late 2008 or early 2009.
He was there for several weeks or months, and investigators believe Abdulmutallab was ‘vetted for the mission’ while in Yemen.
Abdulmutallab, 23, told US officials after his arrest that he had received training and instructions from al-Qaeda operatives in Yemen.
Evidence collected shows that Abdulmutallab also was a ‘big fan’ of Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical cleric based in Yemen, who the US Department for Homeland Security claims had acted as a spiritual leader for three of the 9/11 hijackers.
Yemen is the ancestral homeland of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and has been the scene of several attacks claimed by the group on foreign missions, tourist sites and oil installations.