Sanaa: Yemen claimed on Thursday that US
officials have exaggerated the size and danger of Al-Qaeda in
Yemen, insisting also that fighting the jihadist network`s
local branch remains Sanaa`s job.
A Yemeni official has denied "press leaks published in
US and Western media that exaggerate the size of Al-Qaeda and
the danger that it poses to Yemen`s stability and security,"
according to Saba state news agency.
An unnamed US counter-terrorism official had told AFP
yesterday that the United States was increasingly concerned
about the threat posed by Al-Qaeda in Yemen and that it was
moving to pile pressure on the militants.
He said Al-Qaeda affiliates had regrouped in Yemen and
emerged as a "virulent" danger.
"They`re not feeling the same kind of heat -- not yet,
anyway -- as their friends in the tribal areas" of Pakistan,
he said, adding that "everyone involved on our side
understands that has to change."
The US official spoke following reports in the Wall
Street Journal and the Washington Post citing US officials as
saying that the new assessment of the threat raised the
prospect of expanded US operations in Yemen, including CIA
"Yemen insists that fighting terrorism in Yemen
remains the responsibility of Yemeni security authorities,"
the Sanaa official said, according to Saba.
"Yemeni forces, with the support of friends and
brothers, are capable of bearing their full responsibilities
in eliminating Al-Qaeda elements," he said.
Yemen has intensified its military campaign against
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the group`s local
franchise, since December, mainly after the Christmas Day
botched attempt to blow up a US airliner by Nigerian Umar
Farouk Abdulmutallab, who had spent time in Yemen.
The US military conducted a secret air strike in May
against a suspected group of Al-Qaeda militants in the remote
desert of Marib province, the New York Times reported earlier
this month, citing unnamed US officials.
The US administration has also confirmed it is
actively hunting down Anwar Al-Awlaqi, a US-born cleric in
Yemen who has praised Abdulmutallab, and blessed a shooting
rampage last year at Fort Hood in Texas by a Muslim US Army