YEMEN SOMALIA - THE NEW AL-QAEDA FRONTS

By Chris Hughes on Nov 25, 09 10:30 AM in


WESTERN intelligence chiefs fear young radicalised muslims will head to Yemen and Somalia to newly-established al-Qaeda terror camps.

A leaked US military intelligence reports reveals the two states are being targeted by al-Qaeda leaders looking for alternatives to Afghanistan.

Fleeing Pakistani terrorists who have been fighting in Afghanistan are already flocking to poverty-stricken Yemen to set up training camps, already according to the report.

The American CIA and British MI6 spy agencies fear Osama bin-Laden's henchmen hope to set up a network of terror-academies there.

This is a direct consequence of the succeses of NATO soldiers - including 9,000 Brits in Helmand who have made it too difficult for Islamic fighters to move around in any great number in Afghanistan.

The Unmanned Aerial Vehicles - or Drones - used by the CIA and US military on the Pakistan border have made it even more hazardous.

US spies in Yemen- the poorest of the Arab countries - believe Al Qaeda's inner-circle hopes to relocate its main bases there.

British MI5 has in the past been aware of several thousand UK radical Muslims travelling to Pakistan and Afghanistan to train with al-Qaeda.

But now US intelligence agencies fear a switch to Somalia and Yemen - areas where it is far less easy to monitor what radicals do there.

A senior western intelligence source said: "Recent assaults on the tribal areas of southern Afghanistan and northern Pakistan have severely curtailed movement of al-Qaeda forces.

"The organisation's senior leaders have long held the belief that they must branch out, that they must think ahead and keep a steady through-flow of trainees and trained fighters.

"As a failed state Somalia is ideal, except it can be a difficult terrain to move freely in given the anarchic nature of the clan system.

"Al Qaeda and bin Laden hold a lot of sway there and any outsider would find it very hard to move freely, to spy on the group.

"Equally bin Laden has close and historical ties to Yemen. It is where his family originally come from and it is where he has fought before."

In recent weeks President Obama's senior counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan - a former CIA spook for 25 years has been to Yemen.

He carried a personal message from Obama to Yemeni President Ali Abdallah Saleh, promising him US help in tackling terrorism.

Several senior American military officers have also secretly travelled to Yemen's capital Saana to advise local security forces. And even British special forces counter terrorism experts from the SAS have been to Yemen to help train local security men.

Yemen is stuck in a major localised counter-terror offensive against anti-government forces and is therefore vulnerable to Al-Qaeda.

The report - leaked to the Daily Mirror- says: "Al Qaeda has come to view Yemen which is a fragile state inching towards failure as a potential base of operations.

"This could have significant security implications for the United States and the greater Middle East.

"The Yemeni government is bogged down in a full-scale military operation against an imminent domestic security threat, the al-Houthi rebels, who are Shia Muslim."

Al Qaeda is a Sunni Muslim organisation, representing the majority of Islamic worshippers in the Middle East.

But intelligence organisations believe that if the Houthi rebels were successful they would still allow al-Qaeda to get a foothold in the country.

They mainly object to the Yemeni government's accord with US demands that they help in the war against terror.

That means allowing western special forces soldiers into the country to train up their home security forces.

Ends

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