Authorities said the packagesone shipped by Fedex and the other by UPScontained printer cartridges packed with explosives and were intercepted in Dubai and the United Kingdom respectively, October 29. U.S. Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano said the packages showed the hallmarks of al-Qaeda, particularly al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which is based in Yemen.
U.S. anti-terrorism experts arrived in Sanaa, Yemens capital, November 1 to join a military offensive against AQAP in two provinces, Xinhua reported. Sanaa has been reluctant to wage an all-out war against AQAP because such Islamist groups have helped keep in check independence forces in the south of the country and Houthi rebels in the north who face government discrimination.
Meanwhile, a Yemeni court began the trial in absentia of Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen alleged to be an AQAP leader in Yemen. He is charged with conspiring to kill foreigners. President Barack Obama had earlier ordered his assassination.
The Yemeni government arrested, then released, a woman in Sanaa charged with mailing the packages. She was freed after fellow students at Sanaa University, many of them women, demonstrated to protest her innocence. Government officials then said it appeared her ID had been used by another person. Hundreds marched in her support when she returned to school.
Before the most recent events U.S. Special Forces had already increased their numbers in Yemen, CNN reported, and the White House was considering the possibility of having the CIA mount a drone operation in Yemen similar to the one in Pakistan. Washingtons counterterrorism funding for Sanaa rose to $150.5 million in 2010, more than double the 2009 figure.
Inside the United States, Napolitano announced enhancements that would increase the militarization of the airports. Some, like increased use of dogs and frisking, would be visible, she said, while other steps are not measures that we are making public.
The U.S., Canadian, French, Dutch, and British governments imposed a ban on shipments from Yemen. The government in Germany also banned passengers from Yemen.
Articles appearing in the big-business press hint at the way the Yemen events will be used by both employers and the government against workers rights. The Boston Globe editorialized that even legitimate companies can be infiltrated by untrustworthy employees.
Paris announces withdrawal from Afghanistan
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