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December 29th, 2009
07:39 PM ET

U.S. official gives details of assistance to Yemen in fight against al Qaeda

Yemenis protest last week against a government raid that targeted suspected al Qaeda members.

Yemenis protest last week against a government raid that targeted suspected al Qaeda members.

Barbara Starr
CNN Pentagon Correspondent

"Solid intelligence" from U.S. and Yemen services finally persuaded Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh last summer to accept increased help in fighting al Qaeda in his country, a senior U.S. official told CNN.

After years of pressure from the United States to crack down on al Qaeda in Yemen, Saleh was persuaded to accept help after he was presented with intelligence that al Qaeda "was targeting inner-circle Yemeni leaders," and that there was a growing number of terrorist training camps in Yemen, the official said.

The official, who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the situation in the wake of the attempted attack on Northwest Airlines Flight 253, detailed to CNN growing U.S. involvement in fighting al Qaeda in Yemen.

A Nigerian man is accused of trying to blow up the Northwest flight carrying 300 passengers from the Netherlands to Michigan on Christmas Day. A federal security bulletin obtained by CNN said suspect Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab claimed the explosive device used Friday "was acquired in Yemen along with instructions as to when it should be used."

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Filed under: al Qaeda • Barbara Starr • Terrorism
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