Yemeni government spokesman Rageh Badi said the broken up terror plot included plans for AQAP gunmen, disguised as Yemeni soldiers, to overrun Mukalla and other cities in the southeast.
"It seems that al Qaeda has shifted its attention toward Hadramaut,” said Ali Alsarari, a political adviser to Yemen’s prime minister, Mohammed Basindwa.
“They control some areas [around Hadramaut] and are trying to do what they did in Abyan," Alsarari added.
Efforts by AQAP to shift its operations hub to bin Laden's home province would bring the group, seen as one of al Qaeda's most dangerous factions, closer to the organization's ideological roots.
It is also seen as an attempt by al Qaeda leaders to weather the ongoing counterterrorism offensive by Yemeni and U.S. forces in Abyan and elsewhere in southern Yemen.
Yemeni president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi has carried out a blistering campaign against al Qaeda positions in Abyan, backed by U.S. armed drone strikes.
Washington has recently ramped up those attacks against al Qaeda targets in Yemen in the wake of a new AQAP terror threat against U.S. targets in the Middle East and North Africa.
American military and intelligence forces have launched seven drone strikes against suspected terrorist targets in Yemen within the last two weeks.
The most recent pair of U.S. drone strikes in the country on Thursday ended with 9 suspected militants killed, according to recent reports.
American airstrikes have killed roughly 30 AQAP fighters since the beginning of August, including senior al Qaeda member Saleh Jouti.
The U.S. has closed 19 embassies across the Middle East and Africa through this week in response to the threat. Most personnel were evacuated from the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa, Yemen, on Tuesday.
The terror threat prompting the embassy closures was uncovered after U.S. intelligence reportedly intercepted a message between the leader of al Qaeda Ayman al-Zawahri and the head of AQAP, Nasir al-Wuhayshi.