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U.S. officials say al Qaeda terrorists recently moved into Yemen by boat in a major infiltration operation on the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula.

About 150 al Qaeda fighters were dropped off at a location on the coast along Yemen’s Abyan province, the officials said. The terrorists were equipped with assault weapons, night-vision goggles, improvised explosive device material and other explosives.

The al Qaeda terrorists arrived from Syria, where al Qaeda rebels are gathering in large numbers and are receiving arms and equipment from Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Persian Gulf states. Arms the U.S. is supplying to Syrian rebels also are likely to end up in terrorist hands.

Al Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate is especially strong in Abyan province, and the Yemeni government has been engaged in a counterinsurgency against the group for the past several years.


President Obama isn’t the only one facing a sharp decline in his approval rating. Recent polls show that Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is fond of being photographed without his shirt, is declining in popularity among his people.

Russia’s leading independent pollster, the Levada Center, concluded in a recent report that fervor for the Russian strongman has chilled considerably.

From a peak of 80 percent approval rating in 2008, Mr. Putin’s favorability rating declined to 47 percent in an August survey.

Those with an unfavorable view of the former KGB officer, who has populated his authoritarian administration with former KGB political police, increased to 27 percent from 10 percent during the same period.

Levada stated that Russians consider Mr. Putin “first and foremost representing the interests of the security services, oligarchs, the bureaucracy and the heads of large corporations — figures who in the public mind are at odds with ordinary people.”

No alternatives to Mr. Putin appear to be on the political horizon.

Bill Gertz can be reached at @BillGertz.