Yemeni security chief for U.S. embassy assassinated by al-Qaeda

A motorcycle-riding hit team murdered Qassem Aqlan, the head of a Yemeni security team for the U.S. embassy, in the heart of the capital city of Sanaa on Thursday.  Local sources say the shooters were working for al Qaeda.  According to ABC News, Aqlan was a 20-year employee of the U.S. embassy.  He was on his way into work when he was killed, but was not yet in the vicinity of the embassy building.

There have been plenty of assassinations in Yemen, but this one is particularly troubling given the current sensitivity about security at American embassies.

Reuters offers a picture of the situation in Yemen:

Washington, wary of the growing power of al Qaeda, has stepped up drone strikes on suspected militant positions, with the backing of Saleh’s successor, President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Men armed with machine guns and rockets attacked a security checkpoint in Yemen’s southern city of al-Dalea late on Wednesday, injuring two policemen, a local official said on Thursday.

The attackers, whose affiliation was not immediately clear, fled the scene, the official said.

???The growing power of al Qaeda????  I was under the impression they had been ???decimated,??? as Administration officials and the President are fond of saying.  I thought they had been reduced to doing movie reviews, which occasionally get a little out of hand.  But instead, it looks like they???ve mostly shifted their resources around, reinforcing their ongoing battle to seize control of Yemen, and establishing a disturbingly powerful presence in certain parts of Libya.