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339 words - August 6, 2013 | © DiploNews, all rights reserved.
A number of US and Western diplomatic facilities have been closed for several days following intelligence saying Al Qaeda and/or its affiliates were planning to conduct a major terrorist attack against a number of potential targets across the Middle East, especially in Yemen.
The announcement about embassies' closure followed US President Barack Obama's meeting in Washington D.C. with his Yemeni counterpart Abdo Rabu Mansour Hadi. The former praised the latter's ability "to initiate a national dialogue that could produce (…) a transition to a fully democratic government in Yemen," and stressed the "strong cooperation" between the two countries against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) which "has moved back out of territories that it was controlling." President Hadi explained that AQAP had been so strong in the past that "Yemen's development basically came to a halt whereby there is no tourism, and the oil companies, the oil-exploring companies had to leave the country as a result."
On the fact that this bilateral meeting might have prompted the latest terrorist threats, White House Spokesman Jay Carney answered that the US is actually reacting to "specific information" that has been collected by the intelligence community (IC). Recently, Mr. Carney said, "John Brennan, now the CIA Director, then the President's Counterterrorism and Homeland Security Advisor, spoke very specifically about the rising threat from AQAP," and what is known so far is that "the threat emanates from and be focused on occurring in the Arabian Peninsula."
President Obama's National Security Advisor Susan Rice chaired a meeting with the Principals Committee to further review the situation and US State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki announced that a number of diplomatic posts were about to reopen. Meanwhile, the threats have given the National Security Agency (NSA) a rare opportunity to defend its controversial XKEYSCORE intelligence collection system. "All of our analytic tools are aimed at information we collect pursuant to lawful authority to respond to foreign intelligence requirements - nothing more," the NSA emphasized.
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