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.”

News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
people

Thought you'd seen it all after the Jeremy Paxman interview?

Arts and Entertainment
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch
tv

Greatest mystery about the hit BBC1 show is how it continues to be made at all, writes Grace Dent

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into conflicts
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from David Ayer's 'Fury'
film

"History is violent," says the US Army tank commander Don "Wardaddy" Collier

Arts and Entertainment
Liam and Zayn of One Direction play with a chimpanzee on the set of their new video for 'Steal My Girl'
music

Animal welfare charities have urged the boy band to cut the scenes

News
The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, at the Academy Awards in 2014
peopleGuitarist faces protests over plan to build mansions in Malibu
News
peopleFox presenter gives her less than favourable view of women in politics
Property
One bedroom terraced house for sale, Richmond Avenue, Islington, London N1. On with Winkworths for £275,000.
property
Sport
Erik Lamela celebrates his goal
football

Argentinian scored 'rabona' wonder goal for Tottenham in Europa League – see it here

Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
News
i100
News
Mario Balotelli has been accused of 'threateningly' telling a woman to stop photographing his Ferrari
peoplePolice investigate claim Balotelli acted 'threateningly' towards a woman photographing his Ferrari
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Anderson plays Arthur Shelby in Peaky Blinders series two
tvReview: Arthur Shelby Jr seems to be losing his mind as his younger brother lets him run riot in London
Voices
Don’t try this at home: DIY has now fallen out of favour
voicesNick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of it
Arts and Entertainment
Miranda Hart has called time on her award-winning BBC sitcom, Miranda
tv
Sport
Phil Jones (left) attempts to stop the progress of West Bromwich Albion’s James Morrison on Monday
Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo, writes Paul Scholes
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

Business Focused Business Analyst - Finance and Procurement System Implementation

£350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Reading are...

Note Taker - Scribe

£10 per hour: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an experienced note taker...

DT Teacher - Resistant Materials

£4800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: A full time...

IT Systems Business Analyst - Watford - £28k + bonus + benefits

£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker