Yemen Wants Help Fighting al-Qaeda
Foreign minister estimates about 300 are in the country
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 29, 2009 12:57 PM CST
The San'a Institute for the Arabic Language in San'a, Yemen, where Nigerian suspect in the Christmas Day airline attack Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was an Arabic student.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) Yemen is confident it can do away with the hundreds of al-Qaeda fighters operating within its borders, but it needs more support from the West. The call from the country’s foreign minister comes as investigators probe the link between the recent terror attempt on Northwest Flight 253 and al-Qaeda bombmakers in Yemen. “We need more training,” the minister tells the BBC. “We have to expand our counter-terrorism units.”

That means “the necessary training, military equipment, ways of transportation,” Abu Bakr al-Qirbi continues. “We are very short of helicopters.” He estimates there are 200 to 300 al-Qaeda fighters in Yemen, and “they may actually plan for attacks as in Detroit.” To help the government combat that threat, “the United States can do a lot, Britain can do a lot, the EU can do a lot.” But the threat isn’t that bad, he adds, asserting that it's been “exaggerated in some media.”