Counter-Terrorism: March 14, 2005


Although Yemen has openly, and actively, aided the United States in the war on terror, many Yemenis are fans of Osama bin Laden (whose father came from Yemen) and al Qaeda. There are many al Qaeda sympathizers in the Yemeni military and government as well. These sympathizers have been discreetly aiding Iraqi Baath Party officials who have fled Iraq, and now Syria. There has also been some active, but covert, support for the terrorists operating in Iraq. Cracking down on this is not easy, even with FBI and CIA agents stationed in Yemen. The problem is that the Yemeni government is a jumble of tribal and family relationships. Even if you know an official is helping terrorists, you cant go after him if he is well connected. Unless, of course, such support for Islamic terrorists becomes public, thus embarrassing the culprit, and making him vulnerable to removal from office, or worse. Theres also a lot of corruption in the government as well, so its often the case that you cant step on a terrorist supporter because you are doing business with him on some dirty deal. This has been going on since (and before) September 11, 2001, and its been driving American officials in Yemen nuts. But these things are typical of the Middle East (and many other parts of the world.) Family relationships, and making a buck are more important than what a bunch of foreigners think. The United States has tried to use money to deal with the problem, but its often difficult to figure out how best to deploy the bribes. And some of the hard core Islamic radicals are on a Mission from God, and thus difficult to reach with mere cash.


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