‘Al Qaeda in Yemen big threat outside Af-Pak’

The unearthing of the plot to send parcel bombs on air to the US has greatly shifted America`s attention to Yemen.

Washington: The unearthing of the plot to
send parcel bombs on air to the US has greatly shifted America`s attention to Yemen and the Obama administration is now exploring options on how to handle terrorism lead by al Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula in that country.

Officials now consider al Qaeda in the Arabian
Peninsula as the most potent threat to the US outside of the
border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan where the top al
Qaeda leaders are based.

The timely unearthing of the plot, in which explosive
laden courier packages were enroute to the US before they were
seized in Dubai and London, officials said reflects the
seriousness of the threat and the urgency to deal with
terrorism in Yemen.

Obama`s top counter-terrorism official, John Brennan,
himself is in touch with the top Yemeni leadership including
its President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

"We are working with Yemen as a government in the
aftermath of Friday`s episode, and I would say that we are
pleased with the cooperation that Yemen has shown in the last
72 hours.

"But as we go forward, we`ll obviously learn from this
incident, just as we learned from the Christmas Day bomber 10
months ago, and adapt our programmes appropriately," State
Department spokesman P J Crowley told reporters at his daily
news conference.

"We believe that Yemen has made significant
improvements in its security and counterterrorism capability,
but obviously that stems from a still limited capacity that
Yemen has," he said.

Crowley pointed out that Yemen was the poorest country
in the region, and the US efforts are geared towards steadily
increasing Yemen`s ability to deal with violent extremists who are a threat to itself as well as to the US.
"Yemen is a very complex society. It`s got a history
involving a former division of the country into north and
south Yemen. It does have a variety of conflicts that are
going on inside its borders. Yemen is sovereign and has to
deal with what it believes to be threats to its own security,"
he noted.

The Pentagon yesterday termed it as a serious threat
to the US, but praised Yemeni officials for their stand
against the terror group al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.
"It`s a serious threat, and it`s a threat not only to
Yemen, but the US and other regional interests," Pentagon
spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters in an off-camera

Whitman said Pentagon has been working with Yemen to
implement "a holistic approach" to address security and
counterterrorism concerns in the nation.