Yemeni Government Claims To Have Foiled Terror Plot

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A day after Americans in Yemen were warned to leave the country due to a possible terrorist threat, Yemen's government said Wednesday it has foiled an al Qaeda plot to attack two key southern ports as well as oil and gas facilities.

Rajeh Badi, a spokesman for Yemeni Prime Minister Mohammed Basindwa, said the plot included plans for dozens of al Qaeda militants disguised as Yemeni soldiers to storm the facilities and kill or kidnap any foreign workers.

"The Yemeni government ended an al Qaeda plot to attack strategic locations in Mukalla and Shabwa," Badi told CNN, referring to a Yemeni port city and a southern province.

"Large numbers of government forces are making sure the Yemeni coasts are safe from any al Qaeda attack," he added. "Al Qaeda sought to attack the oil pipelines but failed and tried to attack through the coast of Mukalla but failed as well."

Intercepted messages indicating a possible terrorist attack in the region led the U.S. State Department to issue a global travel alert and close some U.S. embassies.

The U.S. and British governments also withdrew diplomatic staff from Yemen on Tuesday in response to the threat of an attack.

A U.S. official told the Washington Post that the plot described by the Yemeni government may have been a component of a broader plan to hit Western targets.

However, officials told NBC News that the plot thwarted by the Yemeni government was unrelated to the ongoing threat against western interests.

In response to the terrorist threat, the U.S. has stepped up its drone strikes on targets in Yemen and reportedly killed four suspected al Qaeda fighters in the eastern Marib province on Tuesday.

President Barack Obama seemed to try to downplay the risk of a terrorist attack in an appearance on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" on Tuesday, noting that the odds of dying in an attack are a lot lower than dying in a car accident.

"Terrorists depend on the idea that we're going to be terrorized. And we're going to live our lives," Obama said. "But there are things that we can do to make sure that we're keeping the pressure on these networks that would try to injure Americans."

He added, "And the first thing I think about when I wake up and the last thing I think about when I go to bed is making sure that I'm doing everything I can to keep Americans safe."

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