US working with Yemen on al Qaeda attacks

Washington Post:

U.S. military teams and intelligence agencies are deeply involved in secret joint operations with Yemeni troops who in the past six weeks have killed scores of people, among them six of 15 top leaders of a regional al-Qaeda affiliate, according to senior administration officials.

The operations, approved by President Obama and begun six weeks ago, involve several dozen troops from the U.S. military's clandestine Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), whose main mission is tracking and killing suspected terrorists. The American advisers do not take part in raids in Yemen, but help plan missions, develop tactics and provide weapons and munitions. Highly sensitive intelligence is being shared with the Yemeni forces, including electronic and video surveillance, as well as three-dimensional terrain maps and detailed analysis of the al-Qaeda network.

As part of the operations, Obama approved a Dec. 24 strike against a compound where a U.S. citizen, Anwar al-Aulaqi, was thought to be meeting with other regional al-Qaeda leaders. Although he was not the focus of the strike and was not killed, he has since been added to a shortlist of U.S. citizens specifically targeted for killing or capture by the JSOC, military officials said. The officials, like others interviewed for this article, spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the operations.

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Yemen is acting something like Pakistan in approving coordination and the use of drones, but is reluctant to allow boots on the ground troops. This silly sovereignty "issue" is in contrast to their previous lack of concern about al Qaeda boots on the ground in the area. Now that they see them as a threat, they are willing to accept limited assistance in finding and destroying them.

Since the underpants bomber fizzle, the tempo of operations has increased significantly and the al Qaeda gang appears to have tried to lower their profile even in the media battle space. They probably fear any form of communication at this point. This will hamper their command and control operations and make it harder for the leadership to direct events.

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