Al-Qaeda calls for more attacks on US missions, personnel

Washington: Amid growing anti-US protests, al-Qaeda has called for fresh attacks on American missions and personnel in the Arab world and West, as Washington faced resistance from Gulf nations in sending marines to reinforce security of its embassies there and ordered non-essential staff in Sudan and Tunisia to leave.

Al-Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), in a statement yesterday, praised the mob attack on the US consulate in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including US envoy to Libya Chris Stevens, on Tuesday night. Its statement came as US President Barack Obama vowed to bring to justice those responsible for the killing of the Americans.

The AQAP, according to Washington-based IntelCenter, said in its statement that the incident that killed Stevens “is a major one” and called for efforts aimed at “expelling the embassies of the United States from Muslim countries”, more demonstrations and protests, and setting “fire to these embassies as our zealous people did in Egypt and Yemen.” It went on to call on Muslims in the West to carry out fresh attacks due to their easy access to targets. “They are the most capable of overcoming and easily accessing the enemy.”

According to IntelCenter, the statement concludes by recalling the words of slain al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, which he had used to mark an upcoming attack, by saying, “The answer is what you see, not what you hear.”

The State Department, meanwhile, issued fresh travel warnings for Tunisia and Sudan in view of anti-US protests in the two countries, advising Americans to resist from visiting these countries. In addition, all non-emergency personnel and relatives at US missions in Khartoum, Sudan, and Tunis, Tunisia, have been ordered to leave.

The US is also facing resistance from Gulf countries in its efforts to send marines to reinforce security of its diplomatic missions and personnel in the wake of violent protests over a film deemed offensive to Islam. With the outburst of anti-US protests in the region, the Obama administration had announced the move to send marines “50 each” to Libya, Yemen and Sudan so that its embassies and diplomats could be provided with more security.

But on Saturday, the Yemenis Parliament, in a resolution, demanded the expulsion of the marine unit; while Sudan outrightly rejected the US request to send 50 marines to the country. The Yemenis Parliament demanded the expulsion of the US marine unit that arrived in the country, urging the government to protect embassies and secure the ambassadors and diplomats’ lives, state-run SANAA news agency reported.

According to Sudan’s state-run news agency SUNA, the country’s Foreign Minister Ali Karti “turned down” the US State Department request of sending marines to the country.

“We have requested additional security precautions as a result of damage to our embassy,” State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland, said adding the government of Sudan has recommitted itself both publicly and privately to continue to protect the US embassy, as it is obligated to do under the Vienna Convention.

“We are continuing to monitor the situation closely to ensure we have what we need to protect our people and facility,” Nuland said in a statement. In an interview to the Foreign Policy magazine, Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said that the US is “positioning military forces” so that it can respond to unrest in as many as 17 or 18 places that the Pentagon is “paying particular attention to.”