Report: Yemen detains US citizen on terrorism charges

The suspect is being interrogated by intelligence officials in Saana after being captured in the Sabwa province in southern part of the country on Tuesday, according to recent news reports. 

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American diplomats in Yemen are working with their counterparts in Saana to identify the individual and confirm the person is a U.S. citizen, U.S. Embassy spokesman Louis Fintor told The Associated Press on Wednesday. 

The individual had been in Saudi Arabia "spreading religious awareness" prior to arriving in Yemen, a government official told the AP. 

At the time of the arrest, the individual was carrying wo U.S. passports and a German one, and had been tracked to various mosques in the city of Marib, east of Saana, before moving on to Shabwa, according to the official.

The official declined to comment on the individual's condition, whether he was in fact an American citizen or his alledged ties to al Qaeda's Yemen cell known as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). 

AQAP, which is considered the most active and dangerous of all the terror group's operational cells, have stepped up their efforts to recruit Westerners into its ranks. 

AQAP leaders issued a call for volunteers to carry out future attacks the United State, Israel and Western Europe on the group's website in June. 

Aside from the United States, AQAP recruiters listed possible strikes in France, Britain and other "apostate" governments around the world as top priorities for incoming operatives. 

That recruiting push and Wednesday's arrest in Shabwa comes as Yemeni forces continue to carry out a large-scale counterterrorism campaign against AQAP strongholds in the south. 

American intelligence agencies have supported that Yemeni-led campaign via drone strikes against suspected AQAP leaders across the country. 

In July, the Pentagon sought congressional approval for a $75 million counterterrorism package for Yemen. 

That aid package included funds for a bevy of machine guns, sniper rifles, aerial drones, and two new operating bases in the country, according to the request. 

The weapons and equipment were financed under Section 1207 funding, a congressionally mandated stream of federal money overseen by DOD and the State Department dedicated to support counterterror operations around the world. 

In May, news broke that U.S. special operations forces were are already on the ground in Yemen, coordinating airstrikes against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) targets in southern Yemen. 

A 20-man force of U.S. special operations troops have provided satellite imagery, drone video, eavesdropping systems and other technical means to point out suspected al Qaeda targets, according to recent news reports. 

At the time, DOD spokesman George Little said the U.S. special operations forces on the ground in Yemen were part of a U.S. mission strictly focused on advising and assisting Yemeni forces. 

That same month, western intelligence agencies foiled an AQAP attempt to blow up a commercial airliner in U.S. airspace. 

The would-be bomber, who was actually a double agent working with U.S. and Saudi intelligence, was a native of the Mideast country and a naturalized British citizen. 

Posing as an Islamic fundamentalist willing to fight for AQAP, the double agent was reportedly given a new type of explosive undetectable by current forms of airline security, according to news reports at the time. 

After being ordered to board any plane destined for the United States from Yemen, the informant passed the deadly ordnance to American and Saudi intelligence. 

The CIA and Pentagon have been coordinating an aggressive airstrike campaign via unmanned drones against AQAP targets since 2009, following another failed attempt by the group to blow up an American airliner above Detroit.