Deadly al-Qa’ida plot to kidnap foreigners in Yemen is foiled by authorities

Jihadists planned to wear military uniform, blow up pipelines and take over ports

Al-Qa’ida fighters planned to blow up pipelines and take over ports in Yemen, executing or kidnapping foreigners working there and destroying vessels, according to officials in the country.

While a massive security operation had been under way focusing on Western embassies, teams of jihadists were preparing to storm strategic installations, emulating the attack on an Algerian gas plant earlier this year in which more than 80 people were killed, The Independent has learnt.

The Canadian run Mina al-Dhaba petroleum terminal on the Arabian Sea is said to have been one of the targets, with plans for gunmen disguised as soldiers to lead the operation. The attack on the Amenas complex in Algeria, supposedly planned by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a senior al-Qa’ida commander in the Sahel region, was carried out by men in military uniform.

A second port was also in the Islamists’ plan of attack, say officials, which was foiled by action on the ground by Yemeni forces and drone strikes by the Americans. About a dozen al-Qa’ida members have been killed in two days of air attacks, including Salah al-Jumati, who is said to have been one of the commanders in the intended assault, and Saleh al-Tays al-Waeli, described as an experienced operative.

Two towns of al-Mukallah, near Mina al-Dhaba, and Ghayl Bawazeer, were  due to be attacked by the Islamists, claimed Yemeni officials, possibly as a diversion while the oil complexes were being occupied. Ghayl Bawazeer has experienced fierce clashes between Islamists and government troops recently.

There are no suggestions that Belmokhtar, who had been in part of the jihadist hierarchy in Mali before the French intervened in the former colony in January, played any part in the Yemen plot. American and British diplomats were evacuated from the country after the interception of communications in which Ayman al-Zawahiri, who became head of al-Qa’ida following the death of Osama bin Laden, asked Nasser al-Wuhayshi, who leads the networks Yemen branch, to “do something big”.

As well as drone operations there has been a steady build up US presence off shore with three ships, the USS Kearsarge, USS San Antonio and USS Carter Hall, along with 5,200 members of a Navy-Marine Corps amphibious battle group. BBC’s Newsnight reported that the Americans are readying special forces for possible land operations against al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (Aqap) which has shown it is capable of plotting major attacks.

Foreign nationals queue to exit the country (Getty) Foreign nationals queue to exit the country (Getty)

 

Both the US and UK have been involved in training Yemeni forces including soldiers, Ministry of Interior gendarmerie and coast guards. However, there are growing doubts about whether the country’s forces would be able to cope by themselves in what al-Qa’ida has decided is a principal arena for global jihad.

Aqap has become a prolific source of attacks against Western targets, the origin of plots such as the “underpants bomb” to bring down a passenger jet, the despatch of explosive devices hidden in printers and the attempted assassination of the Saudi security chief, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef.

The planned attack in Yemen was similar to that led by al-Qa’ida commander Mokhtar Belmokhtar at the Amenas gas complex (AP) The planned attack in Yemen was similar to that led by al-Qa’ida commander Mokhtar Belmokhtar at the Amenas gas complex (AP)

 

Today, Rajeh Badi, a spokesman for the Yemeni Prime Minister, Mohammed Salem Basindwa, confirmed that “dozens of fighters in army uniforms” had been poised to take over facilities. However, the government was critical of the withdrawal of foreign diplomats. It said in a statement: “Yemen has taken all necessary precautions to ensure the safety and security of foreign missions. While the government of Yemen appreciates foreign governments’ concern for the safety of their citizens, the evacuation of embassy staff serves the interests of extremists.”

Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
Al Pacino in ‘The Humbling’, as an ageing actor
filmHam among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
News
Fifi Trixibelle Geldof with her mother, Paula Yates, in 1985
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
Mario Balotelli in action during his Liverpool debut
football ...but he can't get on the scoresheet in impressive debut
Environment
Pigeons have been found with traces of cocaine and painkillers in their system
environmentCan species be 'de-extincted'?
Arts and Entertainment
booksExclusive extract from Howard Jacobson’s acclaimed new novel
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
A Pilgrim’s Progress is described by its publisher as “the one-and-only definitive record” of David Hockney's life and works
people
Sport
Loic Remy signs for Chelsea
footballBlues wrap up deal on the eve of the transfer window
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham and Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker
TV
Life and Style
Instagram daredevils get thousands of followers
techMeet the daredevil photographers redefining urban exploration with death-defying stunts
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'
TVDaughter says contestant was manipulated 'to boost ratings'
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Primary Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd are seeking EY...

Primary Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: NEWLY QUALIFIED TEACHER WE CAN HELP ...

Lead FE Software Developer (JavaScript, TDD, jQuery, Knockout)

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Lead FE Softwa...

Year 4 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Year 4 Primary Teachers needed for Se...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor