STAKELBECK: EMERGING DETAILS OF AL QAEDA IN YEMEN
By now, you’ve likely heard the key details surrounding an Al Qaeda plot involving explosives found aboard cargo planes bound for the U.S, originating from Yemen.
Here are a few interesting details on Yemen that I became aware of this afternoon after speaking with an intelligence source who actually flew out of Sana’a, Yemen to Dubai yesterday, around the time the explosives were found.
1) The source noticed several things which seemed strange or outright alarming at Sana’a International (El Rahaba) airport in Yemen. For one, according to my source, pre-teen boys were pulling bags out of x-ray machines and essentially acting as porters, complete with uniforms. And you thought TSA had problems.
2) The source noticed a good deal of large bags, “30 or 40 of them,” being brought by porters (grown adults, this time) to the personal baggage terminal, rather than to the cargo terminal, which seemed odd. Given the conditions my source described, it obviously isn’t very hard to imagine a suspicious package making its way onto a plane flying out of Yemen.
It also isn’t difficult to imagine that Al Qaeda may have sympathizers or operatives actually working at the airport who would help facilitate getting explosives onto flights.
3) Virtually all of the women on the Yemen-to-Dubai flight, not surprisingly, wore Islamic clothing that covered their faces. They were not asked to remove these face coverings as they moved through security. That can be problematic, to say the least.
4) The intelligence source told me that Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which is based in Yemen and spearheaded this plot, is growing in size and influence–with thousands of indigenous new fighters, particularly from south Yemen, lining up to join the cause.
More details to come as this story continues to unfold.
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