Using Hellfire missiles delivered from a CIA-controlled unmanned Predator drone aircraft, the attack is an example of a new direction, using technology and covert action to demonstrate America’s determination to strike terrorists wherever they may be. It appears that Yemen will be the testing ground for this new approach. While the country is usually regarded as withdrawn and xenophobic, the truth is that the success of militant Islamist recruiters and operatives has made the poorest nation in the Arab world an international security concern.
The October 6 terrorist attack on the French super-tanker Limburg – similar to that on the USS Cole two years earlier – refocused attention on Yemen as a base for international terrorism. In the wake of the latest war in Afghanistan, Al Qaeda has sought new means of striking western interests.