September 13th, 2013
12:50 AM ET

Al Qaeda message on 9/11

Americans commemorated this week the loss of those who died at the hands of al Qaeda terrorists on September 11, 2001. Their leader chimed in a day later with new threats against the United States.

Ayman al-Zawahiri called on his followers in an audio message posted on the Internet on Thursday to "land a large strike on it, even if it takes years of patience for this."

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Filed under: Al Qaeda • Boston • Massachusetts • National security • Security • September 11 • Terrorism • World • World Update • Yemen
August 6th, 2013
03:31 PM ET

Drone strikes kill militants in Yemen

A pair of suspected U.S. drone strikes killed four al Qaeda militants in Yemen as the United States maintained a heightened security alert in the country and urged all Americans to leave immediately.

Security sources told CNN about the strikes but didn't offer additional details. A Yemeni official said four drone strikes have been carried out in the past 10 days.

None of those killed on Tuesday were among the 25 names on the country's most-wanted list, security officials said.

It is unclear whether the strikes were related to the added security alert in the country after U.S. officials intercepted a message from al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri to operatives in Yemen telling them to "do something." The message was sent to Nasir al-Wuhayshi, the leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the terror group's Yemeni affiliate. U.S. intelligence believes al-Wuhayshi has recently been appointed the overall terror organization's No. 2 leader.

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January 28th, 2013
08:54 PM ET

Ship bearing illegal arms seized off Yemen

Yemeni authorities working with the U.S. Navy intercepted a ship carrying a "substantial" cache of "illegal arms" such as surface-to-air missiles, potent explosives and rocket-propelled grenades, a U.S. official and Yemen's government said Monday.

The incident took place in Yemeni territorial waters in the Arabian Sea last Wednesday, according to a statement issued five days later from Yemen's embassy in Washington.

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Anti-U.S. demonstrations worldwide
September 13th, 2012
02:47 PM ET

Libyan official: Suspect in consulate attack arrested

Editor's note: Several protests stemming at least in part from an anti-Islam film produced in the United States are unfolding outside U.S. embassies around the world. Thursday's protests follow ones in Cairo and Benghazi and an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya on Tuesday night that killed the U.S. ambassador and three others. Follow along with the live blog below for all of the developments around the world.

[Updated at 5:18 p.m. ET] Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, said the U.S. government should bring to justice those behind the anti-Islam film.

Khameini on Thursday called the making of the film a "criminal act," according to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency. His comments came the same day university students protested outside the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, blaming the United States and Israel for the American-made film. The Swiss Embassy represents U.S. interests in Iran.

[Updated at 3:59 p.m. ET] At least one person has been arrested in the killings of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, Libya's prime minister said Thursday.

One person was arrested early Thursday in Benghazi, Mustafa Abushagur said on CNNI's "Amanpour." "Three or four are currently being pursued," he said.

Earlier, the Libyan state-run news agency LANA said more than one person had been arrested. It cited the deputy minister of interior in the eastern region, Wanees al-Sharif, as its source.

The announcement came as the United States is struggling to determine whether a militant group planned the attack that killed the four Americans, even as warships head toward the north African country as part of a mission to hunt down and punish the killers.

[Updated at 3:11 p.m. ET] Four people were killed Thursday during protests near the U.S. Embassy in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, according to two Yemeni security officials. They reported 11 injuries among protesters.

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Attack on U.S. mission in Benghazi
September 13th, 2012
02:12 PM ET

Libya consulate attack: The big unanswered questions

Four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, were killed Tuesday as gunmen set fire to and fought security forces at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

The attack came as protesters outside the compound rallied against a movie that unflatteringly portrays Islam’s Prophet Mohammed. We are starting to get a clearer picture of what happened and why, but many more important and larger questions about the attack in Libya that still remained unanswered.

Who exactly is behind the attack and what was their motivation?

The attack - from people with guns and rocket-propelled grenades – came as people were protesting an anti-Islamic video outside the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi on Tuesday night, according to official Libyan and U.S. sources. However, it’s not clear whether the protesters were the ones who attacked.

U.S. sources are giving conflicting accounts about whether the attack was planned before the protest and whether the attackers used the protest as a diversion.

Sources tracking militant Islamist groups in eastern Libya say that a pro-al Qaeda group responsible for a previous armed assault on the consulate – called the Imprisoned Omar Abdul Rahman Brigades - is a chief suspect in the attack.

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September 11th, 2012
09:19 AM ET

Yemeni defense minister survives car bombing

Yemen's defense minister survived an apparent assassination attempt Tuesday when a car bomb exploded near a building he was leaving, the state-run Saba news agency said.

Eleven people were killed when the bomb exploded in the center of Yemen's capital, Sanaa, including six of the minister's guards, two government officials said.

The blast happened outside the prime minister's office as Defense Minister Maj. Gen. Mohammed Nasser Ahmed was leaving, authorities said.

The attack targeted the senior leadership of Yemen's transitional government, a government official said.

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Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's second in command killed, Yemen says
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's branch assistant commander Said al-Shihri, pictured on October 6, 2010.
September 10th, 2012
11:17 AM ET

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's second in command killed, Yemen says

Yemeni forces have killed Said al-Shihri, second in command of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Yemeni Defense Ministry said Monday.

An official military website cited a senior source saying al-Shihri was killed in an operation in Hadramawt Valley.

A Yemeni government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told CNN an operation took place and a body appears to be that of al-Shihri, but that officials are waiting for DNA confirmation.

The military statement said al-Shihri was killed along with "six other terrorists who were with him."

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August 14th, 2012
09:28 AM ET

Yemen elite forces attack Defense Ministry, source says

Hundreds of Republican Guards loyal to Yemen's former president attacked the Defense Ministry building near the center of the capital city Sanaa on Tuesday, a Defense Ministry official said.

Four people were killed and nine others injured in the attack, said the official, who did not wish to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

Clashes continued into the afternoon between Defense Ministry security officers and hundreds of Republican Guard forces as heavy explosions were heard throughout the Yemen capital, eyewitnesses said.

The clashes are inching closer toward the center of the capital, the eyewitnesses added.

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June 12th, 2012
09:12 AM ET

Yemeni troops retaking al Qaeda stronghold

Yemen's army is retaking Jaar, the final al Qaeda stronghold in the country's southern Abyan province, forcing hundreds of militants to flee the town, two local security officials told CNN.

The state-run Saba news agency also reported that government forces were retaking Jaar on Tuesday morning after fierce battles against al Qaeda with the support of the Yemeni air force. The agency confirmed that Batis district is now under government control.

The officials estimated that more than 80 militants were killed over the last three days in the province, mainly in areas surrounding Jaar and Zinjibar.

They confirmed that seven troops were also killed Tuesday.

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May 20th, 2012
03:48 PM ET

Official: Ex-Yemeni President Saleh hospitalized

Former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh was admitted Sunday to a military hospital in Sanaa, the second time that he's been to a hospital this month, a government official said.

Saleh led Yemen for 30 years before stepping down, amid widespread protests as well as international pressure, last November as part of a long discussed deal brokered the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council

He suffered extensive burns and a collapsed lung in a June 2011 strike on the mosque in Yemen's presidential compound, a U.S. government official said then. In subsequent months, he has gotten continued medical treatment in various places, including in Saudi Arabia and New York.

The Yemeni official said Sunday that Saleh was in the hospital for "a scheduled checkup, not an emergency," while acknowledging he continues to face health issues.

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May 13th, 2012
06:06 PM ET

Yemeni military kills 24 suspected al Qaeda militants

Government troops in southern Yemen on Sunday attacked al Qaeda hideouts, killing two dozen suspected militants in the latest push to clear the area of the terror organization, local security officials said.

Four members of the military were also killed in the clashes, which began early in the morning in the Abyan districts of Zinjibar and Jaar, the officials said, while nine troops were wounded.

Government warplanes aided in the assault.

"We succeeded in taking takeover three strategic posts near Jaar and our forces will continue to go forward," said one of the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"Al Qaeda fighters are evacuating areas previously under their control due to the intensive government bombardment," the official added.

Yemen's government has been fighting al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula for years with mixed results.

Suspected al Qaeda militants seized Abyan last year during Yemen's political stalemate after government troops evacuated most military posts in the province.

Recently, the government sent thousands of troops to Abyan in its latest assault against the militants, vowing not to retreat until al Qaeda is defeated.

The clashes took place the same day White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan met with President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi in Sanaa.

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May 12th, 2012
04:41 PM ET

Drone strike kills suspected al Qaeda militants in Yemen

A U.S. drone strike killed seven suspected al Qaeda militants Saturday in the Mareb province of Yemen, part of a continuing air campaign against the terror organization, security officials said.

The drone struck one of three vehicles carrying the suspected militants in the district of Huraib, the officials said. The other two vehicles fled the area unharmed and continued toward the southern Abyan province.

A heavy government presence was at the scene immediately after the attack and residents said thick smoke and flames could be seen from miles away.

Among the dead were three al Qaeda leaders, according to the officials, who called the attack a blow to the al Qaeda network in the country.

The strike occurred nearly a week after a senior operative of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was killed by a CIA drone strike and less than three weeks after a Yemeni-linked terror plot to bring down a U.S.-bound jetliner was foiled.

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May 8th, 2012
03:16 PM ET

Bomb chief al-Asiri considered one of al Qaeda’s biggest threats

The recent seizure by U.S. and other intelligence agents of an explosive device designed to be secretly carried aboard an airliner by a suicide bomber has put one of al Qaeda's master bomb-makers back into an international spotlight.

U.S. officials haven’t said whether they believe Ibrahim al-Asiri – the chief bomb-maker for Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula - built the device, which they say was recovered two weeks ago after a tip from Saudi Arabia.

But U.S. officials say the group is responsible, and that the device is an evolution of the bomb that was used in a failed attack on a Christmas Day 2009 flight to Detroit – a bomb that U.S. officials believe al-Asiri built.

It’s not clear how the most recent bomb differed from the so-called underwear bomber's apparatus in that 2009 incident. A U.S. official said that like the earlier device, it was “non-metallic” and therefore harder for airport security scanners to detect. But it’s “clear that AQAP is revamping its bomb techniques to try to avoid the cases of the failure of the 2009 device,” the official said.

Regardless of whether al-Asiri made the latest bomb, U.S. intelligence officials believe he’s one of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's most dangerous operatives.  They believe the device comes from the group, and that al-Asiri has been involved in at least three of the group's international bomb plots:  a failed 2009 attempt to kill Saudi prince Mohammed bin Nayef; the failed 2009 Christmas airplane bombing; and a foiled 2010 attempt to send printer bombs to the United States aboard cargo planes.

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May 8th, 2012
08:09 AM ET

Bomb plot shows new level of sophistication, lawmaker says

Investigators were studying an explosive device Tuesday that they say terrorists in Yemen crafted to slip past airport metal detectors and onto an airplane bound for the United States.

U.S. intelligence agents thwarted the plot two weeks ago after receiving a tip from Saudi Arabia, a source familiar with the operation said Tuesday. Authorities have said airline passengers were never in danger and that the would-be bomber no longer poses a threat.

Even so, the plot highlights the resolve of terrorists to attack the United States a year after the U.S. military killed Osama bin Laden in a stunning raid inside Pakistan.

It also shows the lengths they will go to achieve that goal, adapting new technologies to try to evade security, as well as the difficulties that U.S. authorities face in trying to guard against attack, said Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

"This seems to be a new level of sophistication by al Qaeda," King told CNN's "Starting Point."

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May 6th, 2012
04:34 PM ET

Senior al Qaeda operative killed by airstrike in Yemen

A senior operative of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula wanted for his role in the USS Cole bombing was killed by an airstrike in Yemen on Sunday, the Yemeni Embassy in Washington said.

Fahd al Quso, 37, was killed in Shabwa province, according to the embassy.

In addition to being one of the most-wanted terrorists in Yemen, the FBI had offered a $5 million reward for any information leading to al Quso's capture.

Al Quso was indicted by a federal grand jury in New York in 2003 on 50 counts of terrorism offenses for his role in the October 12, 2000, bombing of the USS Cole in Aden, Yemen. The bombing killed 17 U.S. sailors.

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April 18th, 2012
12:58 AM ET

Bin Laden widows, daughters face deportation from Pakistan

Osama bin Laden's three widows and two daughters could be deported from Pakistan on Wednesday after their period of house detention expired overnight.

A Pakistani judge ordered earlier this month that the five women be deported back to their countries of citizenship after serving their sentence for living illegally in Pakistan.

The 45-day detention period ended Tuesday night, said Aamir Khalil, the widows' lawyer. But he said he had no information on when they would be deported.

The widows - identified by U.S. and Pakistani officials as Amal Ahmed Abdul Fateh, Khairiah Sabar and Siham Sabar - have been in Pakistani custody since U.S. Navy SEALs raided bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad and killed the al Qaeda leader in May 2011.

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March 20th, 2012
12:36 PM ET

As party chief in Yemen, Saleh threatens new political order

Ali Abdullah Saleh is no longer Yemen's president, but he is still wielding political clout as the head of the ruling party.

Saleh has threatened to withdraw all members of his party from the national government and warned the prime minister he could face imprisonment.

Protesters took to the streets in mass demonstrations over the past year, calling for Saleh's departure from office. He finally stepped down last month in exchange for immunity in part of a power transfer deal brokered by the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council.

However, he remains president of the ruling General People's Congress party.

Tension has escalated between Saleh and the new regime after new President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi said he was planning major reforms, said Yahya al-Arasi, Hadi's spokesman.

Prime Minister Mohammed Saleh Basendowah recently attended a ceremony at Change Square in Sanaa and condemned the old regime's attacks against unarmed youth protesters. The square was the base of the protests that erupted last year against Saleh's rule.

As a result, Saleh threatened to imprison Basendowah if he does not listen to his orders, al-Arasi said.

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February 27th, 2012
10:02 AM ET

Ex-President Saleh to leave Yemen after handover, officials say

After seeing his three-decade rule come to an end, Yemen's former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, will leave the country for Ethiopia this week, ruling party officials said Monday.

Saleh returned to Yemen just days ago. However, he was under increased pressure to leave, as Yemenis worry his presence will undermine efforts of the new president, Abdurabu Mansur Hadi.

Saleh and Hadi appeared at the presidential palace Monday for a former handover of power ceremony amid cautious optimism and ongoing threats of violence in the country.

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February 25th, 2012
02:43 AM ET

Yemen swears in new president after Saleh's longtime rule

Yemen swore in its new president Saturday, cementing a power transfer deal reached in November to end months of protests and violence over outgoing leader Ali Abdullah Saleh's longtime rule.

Abdurabu Mansur Hadi - who served as Saleh's vice president and became acting president in November in an agreement brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council - was sworn in Saturday in front of Yemen's parliament. Members of the parliament erupted in applause.

Saleh, who led Yemen for 33 years, was wounded in a June assassination attempt at his presidential palace during battles between government troops and tribal fighters.

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February 24th, 2012
09:26 PM ET

After U.S. visit, Yemen's Saleh returns to Sanaa

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has returned to his residence in Sanaa, a spokesman for the country's embassy in Washington said late Friday.

Saleh had been in the United States for medical treatment for wounds suffered in a June assassination attempt at his presidential palace during battles between government troops and tribal fighters.

He was expected to return to Yemen in time for the inauguration of the next president.

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