SANAA (AFP) – Yemen’s foreign minister has warned that Al-Qaeda threats should be taken seriously, after a top militant said the network’s local branch aims to seize control of a strategic international waterway.
“Any threats by a terrorist group should be taken seriously” and all necessary security measures taken, Abu Bakr al-Kurbi said late on Wednesday, according to the defence ministry news website 26Sep.net.
Yemeni forces will protect the country’s territorial waters, the foreign minister said, adding that the “security authorities have proved themselves capable of doing so.”
Kurbi said “Al-Qaeda endangers not just the security of Yemen but also the world’s security and peace.”
On Monday, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s number two, Said al-Shihri, said an aim of the group was to seize control of the Bab al-Mandab strait linking the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea, and called for cooperation between his AQAP and the Somali militant group Al-Shebab.
He also urged attacks on “American and Crusader interests” around the globe.
The Bab al-Mandab strait is used by 30 percent of world trade, as it serves as a channel between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean via the Red Sea.
Yemen’s interior ministry on Tuesday dismissed Shihri’s threats, saying that security forces will “track terrorist elements throughout Yemen, around the clock.”
Yemeni authorities have intensified military operations against AQAP which has claimed the botched Christmas Day suicide bombing on a US passenger plane over Detroit.
But regional analysts have played down AQAP’s ability to carry out its threat to control the Bab al-Mandab, saying it lacks the military capacity for such an action.