- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 30, 2012

Al Qaeda is offering a bounty of more than 6 pounds of gold to anyone who assassinates the U.S. ambassador to Yemen after U.S. drone strikes killed nine suspected terrorists last week in the battle-scarred Arabian Peninsula country.

The bounty for killing Ambassador Gerald M. Feierstein, which is worth about $160,000, was posted over the weekend on the website of the al-Malahem Foundation, the media arm of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Al Qaeda also offered to pay 5 million Yemeni riyals, about $23,000, to anyone who kills an American soldier in Yemen. Mr. Feierstein repeatedly has denied reports of U.S. troops in the country.

The bounties are meant to “inspire and encourage our Muslim nation for jihad,” al Qaeda said on the website, according to reports from Yemen. Al Qaeda said the offer is good for only six months and declined to explain how the bounty would be collected.

Mr. Feierstein, a career diplomat, has played a prominent role in U.S. support for the new government of Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who came to power in February after a popular uprising against the 33-year reign of Ali Abdullah Saleh.

As the public face of the U.S. anti-terrorism campaign in Yemen, Mr. Feierstein has become a target of al Qaeda and Mr. Hadi’s critics, who accuse the United States of killing innocent civilians in the drone attacks against terrorists.

U.S. drone attacks Friday killed two suspected al Qaeda terrorists in eastern Yemen. Drones killed seven other terrorists in two attacks Dec. 24.

Mr. Feierstein also has been accused of manipulating the government to advance U.S. efforts to wipe out al Qaeda in Yemen, where it is a threat to neighboring oil giant Saudi Arabia.

The ambassador has dismissed claims that he exerts undue pressure on Mr. Hadi, whom he praises as a strong U.S. ally in the war on terrorism. In May, Mr. Hadi launched a military offensive to liberate cities and towns in southern Yemen seized by al Qaeda over the previous 12 months.

“The fact is that we provide the Yemeni government with all the support we can to defeat al Qaeda and other radical organizations to stop them from turning Yemen into a safe haven or a launching pad for their operations,” Mr. Feierstein told the London-based Arabic newspaper Asharq al-Awsat in July.

Diplomatic plea

A Japanese diplomat in California faces a year in jail after accepting a plea bargain in a case of domestic violence against his wife.

Yoshiaki Nagaya, who is still a vice consul at the Japanese Consulate in San Francisco, is due to be sentenced Feb. 4.

Prosecutors said Nagaya, 33, pleaded “no contest” to two counts of domestic violence in exchange for the dismissal of 15 other charges, including one count of assault with a deadly weapon. He had faced up to 20 years in prison if convicted of all of the felony charges.

The consulate said Nagaya’s diplomatic immunity covered only his official duties and that he will remain on the staff until he is sentenced.

“He’s still in service in the mission,” Nobuhiro Watanabe, deputy consul-general in San Francisco, told Agence France-Presse. “So long as the process is ongoing, we don’t have any comment to make. We will closely monitor [the case] until the final judgment is made.”

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or email [email protected] The column is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

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