Gulf of Aden shipping could be next Qaeda target
Maritime traffic in the Gulf of Aden could tempt al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to carry out spectacular attacks on shipping or hijackings for ransom, experts and diplomats say.
A message posted on an Islamist website in January warned the United States that "we have attacked you on land and in the air ... and soon we will attack in the sea."
"al-Qaeda troops, especially those in the Arabian Peninsula, have expertise in this area," added the threat, which was translated by the American research institute The Middle East Media Research Institute.
The message referred to a daring attack by an explosives-laden small boat against the USS Cole destroyer in Aden October 2000 that killed 17 sailors and began a wave of suicide attacks by al-Qaeda against the United States.
AQAP claimed responsibility for the failed attempt to bring down an airliner as it approached the US city of Detroit on Christmas Day.
Officials and diplomats in Sanaa are worried, as the Yemeni coast guard's surveillance and protection capabilities are very limited.
"We are in need of means to control the coast of the country, not just against al-Qaeda, but also to combat drug smugglers," said Yemen's head of central security, General Yahya Saleh.
Much of the coast is unmonitored, said Yahya, who is the nephew of President Ali Abdullah Sadeh.