- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Yemeni security official who worked at the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa was gunned down Thursday in an apparent al Qaeda follow-up to the Sept. 11 attack that killed four Americans in Benghazi, Libya.

The victim, a Yemeni national named Qassem Aqlani, was slain by a masked gunman on a motorcycle in a drive-by shooting near Mr. Aqlani’s home as he was on his way to work at the embassy on the other side of town, according to Yemeni officials.

“We are deeply saddened by this tragic incident,” the State Department said a statement. “We are working with Yemeni authorities.”

The shooting was similar to several others that have targeted Yemeni military, security and intelligence officials in the turbulent and impoverished Arab nation in recent weeks.

The attacks have been attributed to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the Yemeni affiliate of the terrorist network.

AQAP, which U.S. officials have labeled the most dangerous of al Qaeda’s franchises, recently called for attacks on U.S. embassies in the region in a bid to exploit the anti-American sentiment that has swept the Middle East and other parts of the Muslim world in the past month.

There have been demonstrations, many of them violent, in more than 50 countries to protest an Internet video made in the U.S. that denigrates Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.

Last month, as the protests were just starting, heavily armed extremists stormed the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi and killing U.S. Ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

AQAP praised the Benghazi attack, calling it “the best example” for those attacking embassies to follow.

The security situation in Yemen — even in the capital, Sanaa — is so chaotic that “it is best to wait and see if al Qaeda claims responsibility,” said Gregory D. Johnsen, author of an upcoming book about Yemen, titled “The Last Refuge.”

Many groups and factions, all of them armed, are jostling for control, and AQAP is “normally very eager to take responsibility” for such attacks, Mr. Johnsen said.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.