Two aspects of this story raise an eyebrow, given Yemen’s track record as a “bus station” for jihadists. One is the fact that the assailant was “known to authorities.” The other is an officials claim of “dozens” of arrests “as police raided addresses across Sana’a.” Now, if they knew where they were, why were they not willing or able to act beforehand? That is, of course, assuming the official is not stretching the truth in the first place. In any event, this incident will likely result in Yemen asking for still more money — above and beyond the $150 million already pledged from the U.S., and $5.2 billion from around the world — and getting it.
“Al-Qaeda blamed for suicide attack on British ambassador,” by Richard Spencer and Mohammad al-Shorabi for the Telegraph, April 26:
Mr Torlot escaped unscathed when a suicide bomber, believed to be wearing sports kit to disguise his explosive belt, threw himself at his car while he was on his way to work in the capital Sana’a.
At least one bystander was said to have been slightly hurt, but no one was killed other than the suicide bomber himself. Mr Torlot was protected by the armour plating on his car.
The incident will renew fears that Yemen, a desperately poor nation in the middle of one of the world’s richest regions, could become a failed state used as a permanent base of operations for al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups.
Embassy officials say the attack on Mr Torlot took place at 7.55am on Monday. As a high-profile terrorist target, Mr Torlot has a police escort as well as his own security detail, even when travelling to work from his home in the south of Sana’a.
His convoy was driving through a poor neighbourhood near Berlin Park to the east of Sana’a’s picturesque Old City, less than half a mile from the embassy, when the bomber struck.
Witnesses said the young man was seen to be dropped off by a black car with tinted windows five minutes beforehand. But they said he was too slow to react to the vehicles, missing Mr Torlot’s car.
Another witness, Mohamed Alian, told reporters he only succeeding in damaging the escort vehicle. Embassy officials denied reports that two escort policemen had been injured.
The body of the bomber, who was dressed either in school uniform, according to witnesses, or sports gear according to the interior ministry, was scattered widely by the force of the explosions, with some parts found on nearby rooftops.
The man’s foot was left lying in the gutter as police began a clear-up operation.
He was named by security officials locally as Othman Noaman, a Yemeni student from the southern town of Taiz, who was known to the authorities. He had been receiving training in Marib, a province to the east of Sana’a which has become a noted al-Qaeda heartland.
The official claimed that there had already been “dozens” of arrests in connection with the attack as police raided addresses across Sana’a for militants….