This morning, President Barack Obama for the first time attributed the attempted Christmas Day bombing of a Detroit-bound plane to al Qaeda. In his weekly radio address, Obama painted the bombing attempt as an act of war. He reiterated his intent to continue fighting the US’s “war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred,” indicating that Yemen could be the next major site of US military involvement.
According to Obama, the Christmas bombing suspect is specifically linked with a Yemen-based affiliate of al Qaeda.
“We know that he traveled to Yemen, a country grappling with crushing poverty and deadly insurgencies,” Obama said in this morning’s address. “It appears that he joined an affiliate of al Qaeda, and that this group – al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula – trained him, equipped him with those explosives and directed him to attack that plane headed for America.”
The Yemeni al Qaeda group has been linked to the 2008 bombing of the American embassy in Yemen, as well as attacks on Western hotels and Yemeni government buildings.
Since this most recent bombing attempt, according to Obama, the US has stepped up its “partnership” with Yemen, “training and equipping their security forces, sharing intelligence and working with them to strike al Qaeda terrorists.”
Obama’s statements indicate that the US military involvement in Yemen is on the rise – raising questions about the development of another major front in the “war on terror.”
The president described a series of recent US-supported military actions in Yemen, undertaken in response to the Christmas Day bombing attempt.
“Training camps have been struck; leaders eliminated; plots disrupted,” Obama said.
US military actions in the weeks before the failed Christmas bombing also show a mounting engagement in Yemen. On December 17, the US launched missiles against two suspected al Qaeda sites in that country, according to ABC News. Yemeni officials estimated that the strikes killed up to 120 people, many of whom were civilians.
Today’s radio address provided no further information about the airport security failures that allowed the Christmas bombing suspect to board the plane with explosives in his underpants.
In this first address of the new decade, Obama signaled that peace is a long way off.
“The hard work of protecting our nation is never done,” he said.
Read the full transcript of Obama’s speech here.