Foreign Policy Blogs

Yemen Embassy Attack Should Have Been Much, Much Worse

In an immediate response to the attack on the US Embassy in Yemen, local authorities (with much American aid) have arrested at least 30 people in or around the capital. The terrorist attack, which left 16 dead including the assailants, highlights an increasing trend of small-arms, non-sophisticated explosives, and loosely affiliated individuals targeting immediate "soft-targets'.

An organization calling itself the "Islamic Jihad in Yemen' claimed responsibility for the violence. The Jerusalem Post is reporting that the group was motivated by political prisoners held in various Yemenite jails, and were demanding their release. ""We, the organization of Islamic Jihad in Yemen declare our responsibility for the suicide attack on the American embassy in Sanaa," the statement read.
"We will carry out the rest of the series of attacks on the other embassies that were declared previously, until our demands are met by the Yemeni government."

The American administration immediately began to link this attack to the larger "war on terror', yet the relationship between Islamic Jihad and al Qaeda is unclear. There appears to be loose affiliations between the two terror groups, and a mutual recognition of the others legitimacy and right to operate.

There isn't much insight to be gained from these attacks. The US Embassy in Yemen is an attractive target since 2003, and will continue to be. One interesting aspect of the attack, however, is the lack of sophistication, both in logistics and weaponry. Yemen is an extremely active location for al Qaeda related terrorism, and is so near Saudi Arabia that one must ask the question: Why were these attacks so unsuccessful? As Saudi officials have cracked down on their domestic fundamentalist elements, many from within that movement have picked up shop and relocated to Yemen. As of late, a flood of money, arms, and individuals have brought about a second wave of terror within the small country. I don't mean to minimize the damage of 16 dead individuals, but for the region, in an area with so much personal and financial support, it should have been much, much worse.



Josh Hammer

Josh Hammer is an International Relations theorist, with expertise in terrorist ideology, American foreign policy, and war / conflict resolution. He currently holds a Master's of Science degree in International Politics from the University of Edinburgh, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations from the George Washington University. Josh's most recent work, his M.Sc. thesis, is a comparative analysis between Marxist / Leninist ideology and Osama bin Laden's global jihadi movement. He currently resides in New York.

Areas of Focus:
Terrorist Idealogy; American Foreign Policy; Conflict Resolution;


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