Saudi officials say Yemen's Qaeda arm losing ability to carry out attacks abroad | Reuters

By John Irish | PARIS PARIS Al Qaeda's Yemeni arm is losing its ability to export militancy overseas after sustained military pressure on its operations, and Islamic State and Shi'ite militants are instead Riyadh's main internal concern, Saudi Arabian officials said on Wednesday.The United States and Britain on Tuesday announced new restrictions on carry-on electronic devices on planes from certain airports in the Middle East and North Africa in response to unspecified security threats.The Saudi interior ministry's chief security spokesman Mansour al-Turki told reporters in Paris that he had no specific information on what prompted the new curbs - which also affect Saudi Arabian Airlines - but he suggested there may be a link to al Qaeda in Yemen.'The U.S.

Reuters March 23, 2017 02:45:06 IST
Saudi officials say Yemen's Qaeda arm losing ability to carry out attacks abroad
| Reuters

Saudi officials say Yemens Qaeda arm losing ability to carry out attacks abroad
 Reuters

By John Irish
| PARIS

PARIS Al Qaeda's Yemeni arm is losing its ability to export militancy overseas after sustained military pressure on its operations, and Islamic State and Shi'ite militants are instead Riyadh's main internal concern, Saudi Arabian officials said on Wednesday.The United States and Britain on Tuesday announced new restrictions on carry-on electronic devices on planes from certain airports in the Middle East and North Africa in response to unspecified security threats.The Saudi interior ministry's chief security spokesman Mansour al-Turki told reporters in Paris that he had no specific information on what prompted the new curbs - which also affect Saudi Arabian Airlines - but he suggested there may be a link to al Qaeda in Yemen."The U.S. has said they raided al Qaeda people in Yemen and they were able to gather some information, but I don't know whether they found something linked to this," he said.

Asked whether they believed Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) had the capacity to project operations overseas with innovative bomb designs, including embedding them inside computers, however, the officials said the group had been severely constrained by fighting on multiple fronts."They don't have the power to export their activities," said Abdullah Alshehri, a senior counter-terrorism official from the interior ministry."It is fighting Islamic State, which is trying to take its place. It is not getting new fighters and after the (Saudi-led) Desert Storm operation it is also fighting the legitimate government and the Houthi (rebels)," he said.

AQAP has in the past plotted to down U.S. airliners and claimed responsibility for the 2015 attacks on the office of Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris. It also has boasted of having one of the world's most feared bomb makers, Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri. The U.S. estimates it has 2,000 to 3,000 fighters.Turki said Riyadh considered the threat of an attack from Islamic State on its soil to be greater given that some 3,500 Saudis had travelled to join the group in Syria and Iraq. Of those, 1,500 remain in the conflict zone with the rest killed.

"Qaeda actually has not been involved in any real kind of terrorism-related incident in Saudi Arabia for three years," he said. "Most of the incidents came from Islamic State or militant groups related to Shi'ites in the eastern province."Turki is leading a delegation of interior ministry and counter-terrorism officials in Paris to discuss wider cooperation between the two allies.The talks have also focused on ways to prevent attacks including with a new digital system implemented in the kingdom to identify potential lone wolf militants radicalised on social media. (Editing by Hugh Lawson)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.