On Saturday, the U.S. State Department confirmed Friday's report by the New York Times that U.S. Embassy officers shot and killed two Yemeni civilians reportedly trying to kidnap the Americans in Sana'a in April.
A U.S. State Department spokesperson said on Saturday that two Americans involved in the shooting incident have since left Yemen, with the support of the Yemeni government. The two Americans, one identified as a United States Special Operations commando and the other a Central Intelligence Agency officer, were in a barbershop in the capital city of Sana’a last month when the kidnapping attempt occurred.
Tensions in the impoverished region have increased dramatically over the last two years and kidnappings for ransom are frequent. Al-Qaeda terrorists have been blamed for the deaths of several foreigners in Yemen. On Monday, gunmen shot and kill a Frenchman working for the EU mission in Yemen.
As a result of escalating violence targeting American interests, the U.S. Embassy in Yemen has issued several warnings reminding U.S. citizens of the continued high risk of kidnapping throughout Yemen. On Wednesday, United States officials announced the temporary shut down of public operations at the U.S. Embassy in Sana'a, Yemen, due to a credible threat against American interests. In a statement by the U.S. State Department said Wednesday:
“Due to recent attacks against Western interests in Yemen, we have temporarily suspended operations of our Embassy in Sana'a to the public," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement. "We continue to evaluate the security situation every day, and we will reopen the embassy to the public once it is deemed appropriate."
In April, 2014, an estimated 65 mid to high ranking members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) were killed in what Yemeni government officials called massive and unprecedented U.S. led military drone strikes in Yemen. The U.S. military drone strikes followed what national security experts deemed credible and disturbing video footage of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) showing over 100 al Qaeda operatives in Yemen emerged on Jihadi websites.
In August 2013, the U.S. Department of State, in an unprecedented move closed several U.S. embassies on three continents after new details emerged regarding a possible al-Qaeda terrorist plot after communications were intercepted of top al-Qaeda leaders indicating they “wanted to do something big”on the 27th night of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which fell on the weekend of August 3 and 4.
As recently as mid 2012, several homeland security and terrorism experts argued that al-Qaeda lacked the leadership and resources to carry out any large scale attacks such as the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Over the last two years, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, based in Yemen has demonstrated the group poses a very significant threat to global security.
International terrorism experts and U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials have increasingly warned that the al-Qaeda (AQAP) based in Yemen's highly skilled bomb makers and technology savvy innovators have made the Yemen branch the largest threat to U.S. homeland security.