January 4th, 2010
03:55 PM ET

Yemen 101: A fertile ground for terrorist groups?

Brad Lendon

Yemen, a rugged, poor country on the southern Arabian Peninsula, is emerging as a key theater in the international fight against terrorism.

France on Monday became the latest Western power to close a diplomatic post in Yemen, as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula threatened attacks on Western interests. U.S. officials have said that the suspect in the Christmas Day attempt to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight over Detroit got training at a camp in Yemen. And Gen. David Petraeus visited the country on Saturday to offer President Ali Abdullah Saleh continued U.S. support in rooting out the terrorist cells.

"We are very concerned about al Qaeda's continued growth there," White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan said.

Yemen offers fertile territory for terrorists to hide and recruit, and it threatens to take on increasing importance with any success Western powers have in fighting al Qaeda elsewhere, including along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, government officials and analysts say.

"The weakness of al Qaeda in Pakistan has forced them out of Pakistan and into Yemen and Somalia," British Prime Minister Gordon Brown told a BBC interviewer over the weekend.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Global 360° • Terrorism • Yemen
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