The United States and Great Britain closed their embassies in Yemen on Sunday after threats were received from a local branch of what officials believe is a part of the al Qaeda terror network.
Al Qaeda's offshoot in Yemen has not only been linked to the failed Christmas Day airliner bombing, but also previous attacks against the U.S. Embassy.
U.S. lawmakers said there's a big irony in this story.
Terror suspects that were released from the U.S. Guantanamo Bay prison have now become leaders of al Qaeda in Yemen. And as President Barack Obama moves ahead with plans to shut down the prison, about 90 Yemen suspects could still be sent back to their homeland.
"It's unique because the core group of al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula is formed by former Gitmo detainees," said Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich. "These are people that were held in Gitmo and have been returned and have now gone back to the battlefield. The other element there is the influence of a charismatic American radical imam. So you put the Gitmo folks together, you put Awlaki together, these people have moved an attack on the U.S. homeland to the top of their priority list."
The U.S. is dramatically stepping up aid to Yemen to fight al Qaeda. The terror group has dramatically increased its presence in Yemen over the past year, taking advantage of the government's weak control over much of the country.
Over the weekend, U.S. General David Petraeus met with Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh. Petraeus announced that the Obama administration will more than double the counterterrorism aid that it provided Yemen in 2009.