US evacuating its citizens from Yemen amid Qaeda threat; Britain withdraws embassy staff

Yemen US qaeda threat.jpg

Washington: The US on Tuesday began evacuating its nationals from Yemen amid a worldwide alert linked to electronic intercepts from Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, ordering one of the most serious attacks since 9/11.
The State Department said it had pulled all non-essential personnel from Yemen, and the Pentagon said the US Air Force had flown staffers out today. "In response to a request from the US State Department, early this morning the US Air Force transported personnel out of Sana'a, Yemen, as part of a reduction in emergency personnel," Pentagon press secretary George Little said in a statement.
"The US Department of Defence continues to have personnel on the ground inYemen to support the US State Department and monitor the security situation," CNN quoted Little as saying. The US earlier ordered reduction of embassy staff in Yemenissuing a fresh travel warning of a high security threat level.
The alert came hours after a drone attack killed four Al-Qaeda militants in Yemen and two days after the closure of some two dozen embassies in the Middle East and Africa. "The Department of State ordered a reduction in the number of emergency US Government personnel in Yemen," State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a statement.
"We are concerned about a threat stream indicating the potential for terrorist attacks against US persons or facilities overseas, especially emanating from the Arabian Peninsula," she said. US citizens remaining in Yemen despite the travel warning in effect should limit non-essential travel within the country, she said. 
In its travel warning, the Department of State warns US citizens of the high security threat level in Yemen due to terrorist activities and civil unrest and urged its citizens to defer travel to Yemen and those currently living in Yemen to depart immediately.
 
"US citizens currently in Yemen should depart. As staff levels at the Embassy are restricted, our ability to assist US citizens in an emergency and provide routine consular services remains limited and may be further constrained by the fluid security situation.
 
"This supersedes the Travel Warning for Yemen issued on July 16, 2013," the travel warning said. The US has issued a worldwide alert linked to Zawahiri's intercepted conversations with his deputy in the Arabian Peninsula ordering him to carry out one of the most serious attacks since 9/11, prompting closure of several American diplomatic missions in the region.
 
Zawahiri sent the message to Nasir al-Wuhayshi, the leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the terror group's Yemeni affiliate, telling him to "do something". US intelligence believes al-Wuhayshi has recently been appointed the overall terror organisation's No. 2 leader. The US closed 22 missions across the Middle East on Sunday and extended the closures of 19 of them till August 10. 
 
Next: Britain withdraws embassy staff from Yemen

Britain withdraws embassy staff from Yemen
 
London: Britain has withdrawn all diplomatic staff from its embassy in Yemen after the US ordered its citizens to leave the country in the wake of a worldwide terror alert.
 
"Due to increased security concerns, all staff in our Yemen embassy have been temporarily withdrawn, and the embassy will remain closed until staff are able to return," an FCO statement said on Tuesday.
 
The British government flew the embassy staff back to the UK overnight. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) had already announced the closure of its embassy in Sanaa until the end of the festival of Eid amid a global terror alert. British nationals had previously been advised against travel to Yemen and those in the country urged to leave immediately.
 
"There is a very high threat of kidnap from armed tribes, criminals and terrorists. Be particularly vigilant during Ramadan, when tensions could be heightened," the FCO travel advisory for the country reads. Officials are describing the latest action as a "drawdown", rather than an evacuation.
 
Similar closures of British missions have recently taken place in Benghazi and Damascus. Yemeni intelligence services had discovered that tens of al-Qaeda members had arrived in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa over the past few days in preparation for the implementation of a large plot, the BBC reported.
 
A security source described the plot as dangerous, and suggested it was to include explosions and suicide attacks aimed at Western ambassadors and foreign embassies in Yemen, in addition to operations aimed at the Yemeni military headquarters.
 
The US had ordered all its citizens in the country to leave following a terror alert over the weekend. Twenty two US embassies and consulates in the Middle East and North Africa were also closed on Sunday.
 
Intelligence from telephone conversations last week between the head of al-Qaeda, Ayman al Zawahiri, and the head of its affiliate in Yemen, Nasser al Wuhayshi, reportedly revealed plans about a major attack.
 
The plot is thought to have been one of the most serious against American and other Western interests since the September 11, 2001, attacks, according to US intelligence officials. Meanwhile, international intelligence agency Interpol said countries should show "increased vigilance", after hundreds of terrorists in Iraq, Libya, Pakistan and six other countries were freed in prison escapes. 

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