Drone strikes kill militants in Yemen; Americans ordered out
A Yemeni soldier mans a checkpoint on a street leading to the US embassy compound in Sanaa on August 4, 2013.
(CNN) — A pair of drone strikes in Yemen on Tuesday killed four al Qaeda militants, security sources said.
It is unclear whether the strikes were related to the heightened security alert in the country after U.S. officials intercepted a message from al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri to operatives in Yemen telling them to “do something.”
A Yemeni official said four drone strikes have been carried out in the past 10 days.
Before terror alerts.
The strikes come as the State Department ordered Americans in Yemen to leave immediately, citing terrorist activities and civil unrest. All non-emergency U.S. government personnel were also ordered to leave.
For weeks, U.S. and Yemeni officials have anxiously watched a rising stream of intelligence about the possibility of a major terrorist attack in Yemen. Their concern spiked in recent days after the interception of a message said to be from al-Zawahiri, who is believed to be in Pakistan.
The message was sent to Nasir al-Wuhayshi, the leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the terror group’s Yemeni affiliate. U.S. intelligence believes al-Wuhayshi has recently been appointed the overall terror organization’s No. 2 leader.
Washington takes precautions
Acting on the intelligence information, the United States heightened its security stance, issuing a worldwide travel alert and closing a number of embassies and consulates over large areas of the Middle East and Africa this week.
The State Department said the substantial security steps reflect an “abundance of caution” over intelligence information that indicated final planning by al Qaeda in Yemen for possible terrorist attacks on Western targets to coincide with the end of Ramadan this week.
Three sources told CNN that the United States has information that members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula are in the final stages of planning for an unspecified attack. Recent jailbreaks in Pakistan, Iraq and Libya all have the fingerprints of al Qaeda operations.
Prison breaks are among reasons for heightened security
On Monday, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters that U.S. anti-terrorism efforts had decimated al Qaeda’s global leadership and greatly diminished its core in Afghanistan and Pakistan, saying the threat had “shifted to some of these affiliates, in particular AQAP.”
Why not? Obomber has been drone killing in Yemen for years!!!!
Separately, American special forces units overseas have been on alert for the past several days awaiting a mission to attack potential al Qaeda targets behind the most recent terror if those threats against U.S. interests can be identified, a senior Obama administration official told CNN.
The official declined to identify the units or their locations because of the sensitive nature of the information. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel put the units on alert last week, the official said.
CNN’s Barbara Starr and Hakim Almasmari contributed to this report