Yemen Is New Haven for al-Qaeda

Group's numbers likely to see boost from freed Gitmo inmates
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 30, 2009 4:11 PM CST
Angry Yemenis protest against the Israeli offensive in Gaza, demanding the general expulsion of Israeli ambassadors, at a demonstration in San'a, Jan. 9, 2009.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – As the US prepares to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Yemen presents a problem: Despite government efforts, the country is becoming a safe haven for al-Qaeda operatives, the Economist reports. Rebuffed by anti-terror initiatives in Saudi Arabia and Iraq, jihadists have flocked to Yemen, where rugged countryside, weak rule and tribal culture make an ideal gathering spot.

The formerly Saudi Arabian and Yemeni brances of al-Qaeda merged last March, and numbers are sure to be boosted by the roughly 100 Yemeni nationals at Guantanamo. The government plans to put returning inmates through a terrorism-rehabilitation program, but the Economist notes that two prominent al-Qaeda leaders currently active in Yemen are alumni of both Guantanamo and a similar Saudi program.