DUBAI (Reuters) – Yemen has arrested a man suspected of threatening to bomb foreign embassies in the capital Sanaa and to assassinate Yemeni political and military leaders, state media reported on Sunday.
In early January, the United States, Britain and France temporarily closed their Yemen embassies to the public due to concern over possible militant attacks.
The 42-year-old man, who was detained in Sanaa, had in his possession a mobile phone containing speeches and songs of Yemen’s northern Shi’ite rebels, the interior ministry said on its website.
Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, is battling a rebellion to its north from rebels belonging to the minority Shi’ite Zaidi sect who complain of marginalization but is also in the throes of a crackdown on al Qaeda.
The Yemen-based regional wing of the global militant group claimed a failed bomb attack on a U.S.-bound plane in December.
The West and Saudi Arabia fear al Qaeda will take advantage of Yemen’s instability to spread its operations to the neighboring Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, and beyond. Yemen itself produces a small amount of oil.
On Saturday, Yemen said it had handed over a timetable to the northern rebels to implement the government’s ceasefire terms.
The country is also struggling to contain simmering unrest from a southern secessionist movement.