It’s not quite an attack on the anniversary of the USS Cole bombing, but it’s fairly close to it and if the State Department and the Obama Administration have learned anything at all from their disastrous failure in Benghazi, the Sanaa embassy needs to be locked up tighter than an Obama press conference tomorrow.
Masked gunmen shot dead a Yemeni man on his way to work at the U.S. embassy in Sanaa on Thursday, a security source said, the latest in a wave of assassinations in the Arab state where Washington is battling al Qaeda militants.
The attackers on a motorcycle opened fire on a car carrying Qassem Aqlan – who headed an embassy security team – in the center of Yemen’s capital, the source told Reuters.
The officer, speaking on anonymity condition, said the attackers bore “the hallmark of al-Qaeda” He said: “Six of colleague officers have been assassinated in this way.”
The pattern of attacks can be seen as Al Qaeda punishing collaborators or moving out honest local security in favor of people who will know to look the other way.
This is part of the peril of relying on local security to any degree. The locals either cannot be trusted or are too vulnerable to blackmail or assassination.
And here’s where it gets really thorny.
Aqlan had worked for the U.S. Embassy for almost 20 years and had been involved in investigating the storming of the U.S. Embassy compound by protesters last month.
Benghazi also appeared to be conducting an investigation of weapons transfers. And that raises the question of whether the entire range of attacks used the Mohammed video as a feint to shut down US intelligence gathering abilities at consulates and embassies. The Benghazi attack badly crippled US information gathering abilities there. And that may be the real purpose of these attacks… to give Islamists some breathing room to begin their next phase of operations without Uncle Sam nearby.