New York, Dec. 28 (ANI): Yemen is emerging as the most probable and suitable hideout for al Qaeda terrorists after Afghanistan, Fox News has quoted intelligence and security officials, as saying.
According to these officials, if terrorism follows the path of least resistance, then Yemen may be the poor man's Afghanistan.
With a stepped up presence of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, intelligence and security officials believe Yemen tops the list of other would-be hosts to Al Qaeda and its offshoot terrorist elements.
"Iraq was yesterday's war. Afghanistan is today's war. If we don't act preemptively, Yemen will be tomorrow's war. That's the danger we face," Fox News quoted independent Senator Joe Lieberman, head of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, as saying.
"Yemen is a hot spot. We need to do everything we can to work with that government," added Rep. Peter Hoekstra, the top Republican on the House intelligence committee, who appeared with Lieberman on "Fox News Sunday."
The arrest of a Nigerian man accused of trying to blow up a transatlantic flight to the United States on Christmas Day has now led back to Yemen.
Sources told Fox News on Sunday that suspect Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, the son of a wealthy retired Nigerian banker and government minister, had spent time in Yemen in the past year.
A government report sent to law enforcement agencies on Sunday also referred to Abdul Mutallab's "extremist ties and possible involvement with Yemen-based extremists."
However, federal officials have not determined that Mutallab obtained any explosives in Yemen.
Yemen has been a trouble spot for a long time.
In 2000, the USS Cole was attacked in the Yemeni port of Aden. Seventeen U.S. sailors were killed.
All the defendants connected to the Cole bombing were released by Yemeni authorities or broke out of Yemeni jails by May 2008.
While Yemen's President Ali Abdallah Saleh has been increasing counter-terrorism cooperation, tribes in rural areas have given refuge to Islamic extremists. More than 90,000 Somali refugees also are located in Yemen, which sits across from the Horn of Africa.
Lieberman said that investigators must find out whether Awlaki was also in contact with Mutallab.
"He reached out to Yemen. He broke ties with his family. We don't know for sure whether he contacted the radical sheik who's now in Yemen, Awlaki, but Awlaki has got to be a subject and a target of our interest," Lieberman said.
"He obviously had some kind of connections with Yemen. And we know there was an imam in Yemen who may have been the inspiration for the Ft. Hood attack," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, speaking to ABC.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Sunday President Obama is directing U.S. resources where they need to be in the fight against terror. (ANI)