By Carlo Muñoz - 08/08/13 09:14 PM EDT
The eight drone attacks in Yemen have killed a total of 34 suspected AQAP militants or affiliates 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.
On Wednesday, Sanaa announced it had broken up an AQAP terror plot to overrun Hadramawt's provincial capital of Mukalla and other cities in the southeast, according to Yemeni government spokesman Rageh Badi.
The plan to take over the Hadramawt capital and surrounding areas was part of an overarching strategy to move AQAP's power base from its current strongholds in Abyan province in the south, Yemeni officials told The Washington Post on Thursday.
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 spiritual and 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.