WASHINGTON, D.C. - (AP) The State Department on Tuesday ordered the U.S. Embassy in Yemen evacuated as a result of the threat by al-Qaida that has triggered temporary shutdowns of 19 American diplomatic posts across the Middle East and Africa.
The department said in a travel warning that it had ordered the departure of non-emergency U.S. government personnel from Yemen "due to the continued potential for terrorist attacks" and said U.S. citizens in Yemen should leave immediately because of an "extremely high" security threat level.
"U.S. citizens currently in Yemen should depart. As staff levels at the Embassy are restricted, our ability to assist U.S. citizens in an emergency and provide routine consular services remains limited and may be further constrained by the fluid security situation," the travel warning said.
The U.S. Embassy is located in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen.
A U.S. intelligence official and a Mideast diplomat told The Associated Press that the current shutdown of embassies in the Middle East and Africa was instigated by an intercepted secret message between al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahri and Nasser al-Wahishi, the leader of the Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, about plans for a major terror attack. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
AQAP has been widely considered al-Qaida's most dangerous affiliate for several years.
Even though the group lost Anwar al-Awlaki — one of its key inspirational leaders — to a U.S. drone strike in 2011, al-Wahishi and the group's master bomb maker, Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, remain on the loose and determined to target the U.S. and other Western interests.
The group is linked to the botched Christmas Day 2009 bombing of an airliner bound for Detroit and explosives-laden parcels intercepted aboard cargo flights a year later — both incidents involving al-Asiri's expertise.
"Terrorist organizations, including AQAP, continue to be active throughout Yemen," the travel warning said. "The U.S. government remains highly concerned about possible attacks on U.S. citizens (whether visiting or residing in Yemen), and U.S. facilities, businesses and perceived U.S. and Western interests."
QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) — A local official says gunmen have abducted and killed 13 bus passengers in southwest Pakistan.
Kashif Nabi says the passengers were taken from a convoy of five buses Monday night heading from Baluchistan province to Punjab province. Tribal police found their bodies Tuesday in a nearby ravine.
Nabi says paramilitary troops provide protection for bus convoys moving through Baluchistan. But the attackers distracted the troops by attacking a nearby oil tanker. The troops responded, and one soldier was killed.
Another group of gunmen attacked the buses and took 13 passengers with them.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Baluchistan is home to both Islamic militants and separatist insurgents. It's not clear whom the attackers were targeting, but separatists have a history of attacking Punjabis.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The threat which has prompted the U.S. to shutter some diplomatic posts and issue a travel alert is reportedly based on intercepted communications.
The New York Times is reporting that the communications were between senior al-Qaida operatives.
The top U.S. military commander says there is what he calls "a significant threat stream." Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey told ABC News that the threat was "more specific" than previous ones and that potential targets are Western, not just U.S. interests."
The State Department is urging American travelers to take extra precautions overseas. Potential dangers listed include public transportation systems and other prime sites for tourists.
The threat follows this week's White House meeting between President Barack Obama and Yemen's current president, Abdo Rabby Mansour Hadi.
CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's official news agency reports that the state prosecutor has ordered the detention of the ousted president over alleged contacts with Hamas to help in his escape from prison in 2011.
The MENA news agency said Mohammed Morsi has been detained for 15 days for investigation into the charges.
Egypt's military has been holding Morsi in an undisclosed location since deposing him on July 3.
SANAA, Yemen (AP) — The Yemen-based branch of al-Qaida says a U.S. drone strike has killed a former Guantanamo Bay prisoner who rose to become the group's No. 2 figure.
The announcement, posted on militant websites, gave no date for the death of Saudi-born Saeed al-Shihri.
In January, Yemen's official SABA news agency had reported that al-Shihri died of wounds from a drone strike three months earlier.
The monitoring group SITE said Wednesday that al-Shihri was eulogized in the video by a senior official in the terrorist group, known as Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.
Al-Shihri, also known as Abu Sufyan al-Azdi, fought in Afghanistan and spent six years in Guantanamo. He was returned to Saudi Arabia in late 2007 and later fled to Yemen to join the al-Qaida branch there.
FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) — A judge was to decide today whether to delay the Fort Hood shooting suspect's trial three months so he can have more time to prepare.
Maj. Nidal Hasan requested the delay after the judge ruled that he can represent himself. But Col. Tara Osborn, the judge, scolded him Monday, reminding him that he previously said he wouldn't need extra time. Jury selection is still set for Wednesday.
Hasan faces the death penalty or life without parole if convicted of 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in the 2009 attack on the Texas Army post.
Some wounded soldiers say they're angry that Hasan will be allowed to approach and question them.
Retired Staff Sgt. Shawn Manning says testifying will be more difficult but he's prepared.
BOISE, Idaho (AP) - An Uzbekistan national living in Idaho is expected to appear in federal court Friday on charges he conspired with a terrorist group on a scheme to use a weapon of mass destruction.
Federal agents raided the Boise apartment of 30 year old Fazliddin Kurbanov Thursday after a grand jury issued a three-count indictment accusing him of federal terrorism charges.
The indictment alleges Kurbanov gave money, computer software and other resources to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan - a designated foreign terrorist group.
He's also charged with helping prepare for the use of a weapon of mass destruction.
Federal prosecutors say any potential threat has been contained by his arrest.
A separate federal grand jury indictment accuses him of taking part in terrorist activity in Utah earlier this year.
ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistani officials say gunmen have attacked an election rally in the southern Punjab province and abducted the son of former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.
A police official, Abdul Rehman, says gunmen stormed the rally in the town of Multan, opened fire and seized Ali Haider Gilani on Thursday.
A Punjab government official, Rao Iftikhar Ahmad, says one of Gilani's guards was killed and five people were wounded in the attack.
Thursday is the last day of campaigning for Pakistan's election scheduled this Saturday.
But the race has been marred by a string of violent attacks against candidates and election events.
Attorneys for a former SIU Edwardsville student are asking the Illinois Supreme Court to uphold a lower court's decision to toss out their client's conviction of attempting to make a terroristic threat. The filing on behalf of Olutosin Oduwole comes more than a month after he was ordered freed by a state appellate court.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is appealing the overthrown conviction on behalf of Madison County prosecutors.
Oduwole's attorneys now argue there's no compelling reason for the state's high court to hear the case, and their client's six-year ordeal constitutes an abuse of prosecutorial power and a waste of judicial resources.