CNN Wire Staff
(CNN) - U.S. officials say that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a fairly new arm of the umbrella terrorist organization, is behind an apparent plot to send explosive devices to U.S. destinations via cargo planes.
"Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is an organization of several hundred individuals that are dispersed throughout the country," presidential counterterrorism advisor John Brennan told reporters Friday. "They are murderers and they are determined to carry out attacks on innocent lives, whether they be Yemeni, Americans, Westerners or others. ...
"If anything, this just demonstrates to us and, I think to the Yemenis as well, that we need to redouble our efforts so that we're able to destroy al Qaeda, and we will."
Brennan pointed to the botched attempt last Christmas to blow up a Northwest Airlines passenger jet en route from Amsterdam, Netherlands, to Detroit, Michigan, on Christmas Day. U.S. and Yemeni officials have linked the attempt by man who tried to ignite explosives in his underwear to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
Formed in 2009, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is a regional terrorist group known for targeting government and Western interests in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Yemeni forces, with support from their U.S. allies, have stepped up military and political pressure on the group in recent weeks, despite continued threats from its leader.
A key figure in the group is Yemeni-American militant cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, whom U.S. authorities have linked to Fort Hood shooting suspect Maj. Nidal Hasan as well as the man accused in the Christmas Day bomb attempt. Brennan would not specifically name al-Awlaki as a suspect.
Filed under: 360° Radar
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