Yemen Is Newest Front in US Battle With al-Qaeda
Pentagon has quietly expanded anti-terror efforts over past year
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 28, 2009 5:50 AM CST
Updated Dec 28, 2009 7:52 AM CST
This image provided by the U.S. Navy shows damage sustained on the USS Cole after a suspected terrorist bomb exploded during a refueling operation in the port of Aden, Yemen, in this Oct. 12, 2000 file...   (AP Photo/U.S. Navy, HO, File)
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(Newser) – The Christmas Day attempt to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight by suspect who claims to have been trained and armed in Yemen highlights that country's emerging role as a major battleground in the fight against Islamic extremism. The US has quietly opened up a covert offensive against a potent offshoot of al-Qaeda there, sending CIA operatives there a year ago, along with special ops forces to help train Yemeni forces.

The US has doubled its military aid, committing $70 million over the next 18 months and deploying special forces training teams to enhance the capabilities of the Yemeni government of Ali Abdullah Saleh, the New York Times reports in a rundown of the strengthening relationship between the two countries. US intelligence allegedly contributed to airstrikes by the Yemeni military that killed 60 militants on Dec. 17 and Christmas Eve.