New details are emerging about two Yemenis fatally shot by U.S. Embassy personnel last month.
On April 24, two armed men reportedly attempted to kidnap two U.S. Embassy employees at a barbershop near the country's capital. The Americans, one a CIA agent and the other a member of special forces, reportedly shot and killed the assailants before fleeing the scene. (Via Fox News)
According to a new report from The New York Times, a Yemeni official has now said those two assailants "were part of a cell linked to Al Qaeda that had planned and executed several attacks on foreigners in the country."
Whether intentional or by chance, the two officers reportedly disrupted an apparent kidnapping ring believed to be responsible for killing a French national last week, plotting to assassinate a German diplomat last month and kidnapping a Dutch couple last year.
Yemen has seen growing violence toward Westerners in the country as AQAP, one of the strongest branches of Al Qaeda, continues to consolidate power in the region and attempt to derail the country's fragile government. (Via CNN)
The Wall Street Journal explains the Al Qaeda cell's most recent plot stands out for how the intended targets reacted.
Summarizing a witness's recount, the Journal explains: "a Western-looking man standing on the sidewalk ... pulled out a handgun and ... shot and killed both attackers."
Incidents where Americans respond to altercations with deadly force have sometimes triggered anger and protest in Middle Eastern countries. While the two Yemeni killed here were said to be armed Al Qaeda operatives, the two Americans were not supposed to be at the barbershop.
A Yemeni official told CNN: "These individuals violated security protocol ... U.S. Embassy personnel are not allowed to leave their secure facilities."
A spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department has confirmed the two Embassy employees "fired their weapons after being confronted by armed individuals" and that "[t]wo ... individuals were killed." The two officers are no longer in Yemen.