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Al Qaeda operatives still escaping Yemeni Prisons!

Interesting Article: "Al Qaeda militants escape Yemen prison" by ASSOCIATE PRESS/ Sanaa published Monday, December 12, 2011

A recent article by CBS News World, mentioned that Several al Qaeda militants escaped early Monday from a prison in the southern Yemeni port city of Aden, officials said, tunneling their way out in the second such spectacular jailbreak this year. A prison officer said at least 10 convicts escaped through an up to 130 feet long tunnel, which took the inmates from under the western side of the Aden prison to near a petrol station outside the prison walls. A security official said 15 militants fled in the prison break, including 12 convicted for the killing of security officials and a bank heist. Yemen has seen spectacular jailbreaks before. Is Yemen even up to house these militants anymore?

Yemen, the Arab world's poorest nation, has been wrecked by months of political turmoil and unrest. A popular uprising against longtime President Ali Abdullah Saleh's rule — inspired by other Arab Spring revolts that toppled autocratic rulers in Egypt and Tunisia — has been met by a fierce government crackdown. The crackdown triggered widespread defections earlier this year by soldiers and officers who joined the protest movement. Powerful tribes and their armed fighters also turned against President Saleh and waged battles against his forces. Yemen is also home to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which the U.S. considers the terrorist network's most active and dangerous offshoot. Islamic militants with links to the group have taken advantage of the country's turmoil to seize control of several towns in southern Yemen. In June, Nearly 60 suspected al Qaeda militants tunneled their way out of a Yemeni prison in the lawless south. The escape from the Mukalla prison in Hadramout province is a growing sign that Islamic militants are seizing on the mayhem to operate more freely, something the U.S. fears will become an increasing international threat if the impoverished nation grows even more unstable. Hundreds of Islamic militants have also taken control of two southern towns in recent weeks. The recent jailbreaks harked back to one in February 2006, when 23 al Qaeda militants broke out of a detention facility in Sanaa, Yemen's capital. They included Nasser al-Wahishi, who went on to become the leader of the Yemen-based AQAP, which Washington says is already the terror network's most active branch. Already, much of Yemen has been paralyzed by months of massive protests. The crisis recently shifted to armed street conflict between troops loyal to Saleh and rival tribal fighters. Al Qaeda in Yemen has been linked to several nearly successful attacks on U.S. targets, including the plot to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner in December 2009. It also put sophisticated bombs into U.S.-addressed parcels that made it onto cargo flights last year. As stated before, what is problematic is that al Qaeda-linked militants seized control of two towns in Abyan, another southern province, and briefly took control of several neighborhoods in the neighboring province of Lahj. Investigations into these breakouts and subsequent trials showed that some prison security officers were involved in helping the convicts flee and several officers have been jailed. Opposition parties alleged that the breakout was facilitated by senior military officials with close ties to embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who recently signed a political agreement brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to end 11 months of political turmoil. The opposition said the plot was intended to cause further chaos in the south in order to get more U.S. support, apparently in an attempt to prove the crackdown on anti-government protesters was justified. The country, with its widely ungoverned tribal areas, has allowed AQAP to flourish. U.S. officials consider the group to be the most significant al Qaeda threat against the United States now that much of the leadership of al Qaeda in Pakistan has been decimated. As Jon Alterman, director of the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies said in November; "it's an ungoverned space next to Somalia......piracy, terrorism, weapon smuggling, any number of bad things can happen in Yemen." With Yemen security officials looking the other way during these escapes, Yemen stands to get a whole lot worse before it gets better.   



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