U.S. Embassy in Yemen reopens after Qaeda threats prompt two-day closure

SAN'A, Yemen — The U.S. Embassy in Yemen reopened its doors Tuesday after a two-day closure, saying successful Yemeni counterterrorism operations have addressed the threat that prompted the measure.The embassy shut down because of an imminent al-Qaida attack. In an announcement on its Web site, the embassy said Yemeni actions "have addressed a specific area of concern, and have contributed to the Embassy's decision to resume operations."The reopening comes a day after Yemeni security forces clashed with al-Qaida fighters, killing two, in the latest sign the embattled, longtime president is making good on vows that his country will cooperate with the United States in fighting the terror network.The Yemeni Interior Ministry said Tuesday it had increased security measures around embassies."There is nothing to fear from any threats of terror attack," the ministry said in a statement. "Security is good in the capital and the provinces, and there is no fear for the lives of any foreigner or foreign embassy."Washington is embracing Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh in the battle against al-Qaida's offshoot here. With an injection of U.S. counterterror aid and help for its security forces, Yemen's government has vowed in recent weeks to work with the U.S. in stamping out the estimated hundreds of al-Qaida fighters who have built up strongholds in the country's remote regions. Last month, with U.S. help, it carried out its heaviest strikes in years against al-Qaida hideouts, claiming to have killed 30 militants.The renewed determination brought praise Monday from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. "The United States commends Yemen for the recent actions it has taken to disrupt (al-Qaida) networks and we are reiterating our commitment to assist in those efforts," she said.In Monday's clashes, Yemeni security forces attacked a group of al-Qaida militants moving through the mountainous area of Arhab, northeast of the capital, security officials said.Among Continue Reading

New $1B U.S. embassy in London will feature a moat to prevent terrorist attacks

The U.S. embassy in London is going medieval.Philadelphia-based architectural firm was chosen to design a new $1-billion embassy across the pond - and it includes a moat.Mayfair district, so the new building will include a 100-foot wide reflecting pond that also serves as a barricade."They integrated security into the design of an embassy for the 21 century," said State Department spokesman Jonathan Blyth. "Part of its inspiration came from the tradition of English architecture, where they did build moats."But Blyth was quick to say that the body of water isn't technically a moat. "It's a reflecting pond," he said."Our objective is to prevent the possibility of a vehicle getting to the embassy to cause damage," Blyth said. "But we also wanted to make it an inviting area, and urban parks are very important to the landscape here in London.Construction on the new embassy, which will be built in the Battersea district, will begin in 2013 and is expected to be completed by 2017.It will be the most expensive embassy in U.S. history, surpassing the $700 million pricetag for the recently-built U.S. embassy in Baghdad.  Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Yemen claims to have killed Al Qaeda militants behind terror threat to U.S. Embassy

SANAA - Yemeni forces fought al Qaeda militants on Monday, killing at least two they said were behind security threats which forced the U.S. embassy and other foreign missions to close."These (militant) elements are believed to be behind the threats directed to the U.S. embassy," a Yemeni security official told Reuters. "Clashes are still continuing."The United States embassy in the capital, Sanaa, said it was staying shut for a second day in response to al Qaeda threats.Britain's embassy has been closed since Sunday and Japan suspended its consular services on Monday due to security concerns.Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Yemen branch of Osama bin Laden's network, has claimed responsibility for a December 25 attempt to blow up a U.S. passenger plane carrying 300 people.It said the Christmas Day bomb attempt was retaliation for U.S. involvement in Yemen and its support for the government's offensive against the militants.Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 23-year-old Nigerian accused of trying to blow up a plane as it approached Detroit, spent time in Yemen last year where U.S. officials believe he received training from a militant group.The events have swung the focus on Washington's war on Islamist militants onto Yemen while U.S. forces are fighting a strengthening Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan and are still committed in Iraq.Both the United States and Saudi Arabia fear al Qaeda may exploit instability in the poorest Arab country to turn it into a launch pad for more attacks.Yemen has tightened coastal security after Somali militants said they were ready to send reinforcements for al Qaeda.In addition, Yemen faces a Shi'ite Muslim rebellion in the north and separatist protests in the south.The conflict with the northern Shi'ite rebels -- who complain of social, economic and religious marginalization -- has killed hundreds of people and displaced tens of thousands.The rebels said Saudi Arabian war planes killed 16 Yemenis in air strikes over the last two Continue Reading

4 killed in blast near U.S. Embassy in Kabul

KABUL, Afghanistan - A suicide car bomber exploded about 200 yards outside the U.S. Embassy in Kabul yesterday, killing at least four Afghan bystanders as people entered the compound for a Thanksgiving Day race.At least 18 others were wounded in the morning attack, said Abdullah Fahim, a health ministry spokesman. No U.S. Embassy personnel were killed or injured, officials said in a statement. The bomber was driving a Toyota Corolla. The Interior Ministry said the bombing targeted a convoy of foreign troops on the last day of a visit by a United Nations Security Council delegation, but it had no further information. The U.S. Embassy was holding a Thanksgiving Day run scheduled for 9 a.m. Americans and other Westerners were entering the compound when the bomb went off at about 8:30 a.m., sending some participants sprinting for the embassy's inner gates. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Suspect in U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania escapes police raid

A man accused of masterminding the bombings of two American embassies in East Africa 10 years ago escaped a police raid early Sunday, a senior Kenyan police official said.Fazul Abdullah Mohammed has a $5 million bounty on his head for allegedly planning the 1998 attacks on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 225 people and injured more than 5,000. Fazul was apparently in Kenya to seek treatment for a kidney complaint, the official said.The 32-year-old suspected member of Al Qaeda is originally from the Comoro Islands, in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa. He is also suspected of planning the nearly simultaneous car bombing of an Israeli-owned hotel, which claimed 13 lives, and a failed attempt to shoot down an Israeli airliner in Kenya in 2002. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

U.S. Embassy spills over onto Mexico City street

MEXICO CITY — The drug war. Immigration reform. Escalating violence along the border. As if Hillary Clinton didn't have enough to worry about on her first visit to Mexico as secretary of state, some leading leftists accuse the United States of stealing a city street in the nation's capital. The U.S. Embassy has illegally occupied the side street, they say, with metal barricades and a sheet-metal canopy erected years ago to provide order and shade for an estimated 2,000 Mexicans applying each day for U.S. visas. As Mexico prepares for midterm elections in July, the issue has become, well, political. "It seems to me to be a lack of respect, and it is also a violation of national sovereignty," said city legislator Tomas Pliego of the leftist Democratic Revolution Party, who pledged to force the Embassy obey a law against occupying public streets, parks and sidewalks. Mayor Marcelo Ebrard, of the same party, also has taken up the cause of reopening Rio Danubio, a narrow one-way street off Paseo de la Reforma, the capital's main promenade modeled after the Champs-Elysees in Paris. "The Embassy has not had, nor does it have, authorization to occupy public spaces," Ebrard told reporters. "They shouldn't be the ones who occupy the city with the aim of providing security." No one has proposed sending in city police to recover Rio Danubio, where the embassy says the canopy and other structures have made the visa wait shorter and more comfortable in response to criticism in the 1990s that it was exposing hundreds of Mexicans each day to the sun and rain. "The embassy is in active conversations with the city and the Foreign Relations Department on these matters," said spokeswoman Janice Weiner. Meanwhile, it is hard to find any city residents who care about the leftists' cause. After all, street vendors, restaurants and other businesses routinely take over streets and sidewalks all over the capital, often leaving just a few inches for pedestrians Continue Reading

Serb rioters set fire to U.S. Embassy, protest over Kosovo independence

BELGRADE, Serbia - Serb rioters broke into the U.S. Embassy and set fire to an office Thursday, and police clashed with protesters outside after a large demonstration against Kosovo's declaration of independence. The embassy said a charred body was found in the embassy after the attack. "It was found at the part of the building set on fire by the protesters," embassy spokeswoman Rian Harris said. She said all embassy staffers were accounted for; Belgrade's Pink TV said the body appeared to be that of a rioter. Masked attackers broke into the U.S. compound, which was closed at the time, just after 7 p.m. and tried to throw furniture from an office. They set fire to the office and flames shot up the side of the building. It took police about 45 minutes to appear at the scene, and firefighters arrived about the same time and put out the blaze. Police secured the U.S. Embassy and surrounding area, blocking off all access. The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Zalmay Khalilzad, said he was "outraged" by the attack and would ask the U.N. Security Council to issue a unanimous statement "expressing the council's outrage, condemning the attack, and also reminding the Serb government of its responsibility to protect diplomatic facilities." Serbia's President Boris Tadic, on an official visit to Romania, appealed for calm and urged the protesters to stop the attacks and move away from the streets. Tadic said that violence was "damaging" Serbia's efforts to defend Kosovo, which declared its independence from Belgrade on Sunday. More than a dozen nations have recognized Kosovo's declaration of independence, including the United States, Britain, France and Germany. But the declaration by Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leadership has been rejected by Serbia's government and the ethnic Serbians who populate northern Kosovo. For several days, Kosovo's Serbs have shown their anger by destroying U.N. and NATO property, setting off small bombs and staging noisy rallies.On Continue Reading

Wife of British billionaire arrested at U.S. Embassy after crack found in purse

Socialite Eva Rausing, the wife of Britain's sixth-richest man, is pleading for forgiveness after she was arrested for allegedly possessing crack cocaine and heroin and trying to smuggle them into the U.S. Embassy in London.American-born Rausing and her hippie-turned-billionaire husband, Hans Kristian Rausing, heir to the Tetra Pak drink-carton empire, were arrested after security guards allegedly found drugs in Eva Rausing's purse on Tuesday.Eva Rausing, the daughter of a Pepsi executive, emerged from her mansion after retuning home Wednesday and begged friends and family to be understanding. The mother of four said, "I have made a serious mistake which I very much regret. I have made a grave error and consider myself to have taken a 'wrong turn' in the course of my life. "I am very sorry for the upset I have caused. I intend to leave as soon as possible to seek the help that I very much need. I am ashamed of my actions; I hope in due course to get back on track to become the person I truly want to be."She and her husband were taken to Charing Cross police station for questioning while authorities searched their home. They were released on bail until July, according to Scotland Yard.The Rausings are reportedly involved with several charities, including some that work to keep young people away from drugs. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Azerbaijan says it foiled attack near U.S. Embassy

Azerbaijan said Monday it had foiled a radical Islamic group's plot to carry out a "large-scale horrifying terror attack" near the U.S. Embassy. The United States and Britain temporarily closed their embassies in Baku, capital of the former Soviet republic. "Several people belonging to a Wahhabi group have been detained. They were planning terrorist attacks near the U.S. Embassy in Baku," said Arif Babayev, a spokesman for the National Security Ministry. Wahhabism, which originated in Saudi Arabia in the 18th century, is rooted in the idea of restoring Islam's purity by purging it of its foreign and corrupting influences. The National Security Ministry said one suspect was killed and several others were detained in a weekend sweep outside Baku. The Islamist group included an army lieutenant who had stolen weapons from his unit for the plot, the National Security Ministry said. The weapons included 20 hand grenades, a machine gun, four assault rifles and ammunition, the ministry said. A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy said it had gone to "limited operations in connection with a threat against the embassy." A British Embassy spokesman said it was closed "due to some local security concerns." Neither embassy would elaborate on the nature of the threat. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Man busted trying to bring bomb into U.S. Embassy

A Bosnian man tried to enter the U.S. Embassy in Vienna today with a backpack loaded with explosives but was stopped by security, Austrian police said.The 42-year-old man try to flee after his backpack set off a metal detector at the embassy, officials said. He was nabbed a short time later and no one wa hurt in the incident.Investigators said the man's backpack was filled with explosives, nails and Islamic literature."There were a lot of nails in that bag. Had it exploded, it would have had an enormous shrapnel effect,” said Doris Edelbacher, of Austria's federal counterterrorism office.The suspect was identified only as a native of Bosnia-Herzegovina who had been living in Austria.Last month, authorities arrested three people — all Austrian citizens of Arab origin — in connection with a video posted online in March that had threatened Austria and Germany with attacks if they did not withdraw their military personnel from Afghanistan. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading