He estimated that several hundred al-Qaeda members were operating in Yemen and could be planning more attacks.
A Yemen-based branch of the network has claimed it planned the failed attack.
Yemeni officials said Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, the Nigerian man accused of trying to blow up the Detroit-bound jet on Christmas Day, was living in Yemen from August until the beginning of December, the official Saba news agency reported. " BBC
I was Defense and Army Attache in the US Embassy in Sana, North Yemen in 1981 and 1982. I have been back several times. most recently three or four years ago. The same man, Ali Abdullah Salih, is president of a united north and south Yemen. He was merely president in the north when I lived in Sana. There have been no "breaks" in his service.
The country is an example of tribalism run riot. Except for the coastal plains the terrain is a wilderness of dissected mountain ridges, each of which is topped by a very defensible village.
The tribal structure is very complex and divided into; confederations, tribes, clans, families, etc. In the north of the country live Zeidi (Fiver) Shia. Their type of Shiism is the closest to Sunni Islam. Their jurisprudence is actually based on Mu'tazilism. The rest of the country is largely inhabited by Sunni Shafa'i.
There is constant war in Yemen, war over women's honor, water rights, land, beasts or just for the fun of it. The government does not exercize any substatial control over most places outside the cities. The tribesmen are both in the army and out of it and a favorite political move is for some dissident officer to desert taking many of his men and such odds and ends as; small arms; artillery and tanks to his home district after proclaiming "come and get me." The tribesmen are heavily armed. An AK-47 is a standard accessory in personal fashion, and they DO shoot at each other a lot.
The Yemenis are crafty folk. In the Cold War they were adept at getting free money and weapons from the USSR, USA, Saudi Arabia, and East Germany. They hired the French, Taiwanese and Italians to do odd jobs for them using other peoples' money.
Salih is particularly good at that. He delights in "screwing" the big guys by playing on their fears.
This is the next Afghanistan? pl