MOSCOW, December 30 –The U.S. and Yemen are now studying possible targets in the Arab state for a potential retaliation strike on Al-Qaeda facilities in the country, CNN said on Wednesday citing two senior defense officials.
The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the aim of the effort was to be “ready with options for the White House if President Obama orders a retaliatory strike” over the failed Christmas Day bombing on a U.S.-bound plane carrying 300 people.
“The effort is to see whether targets can be specifically linked to the airliner incident and its planning,” the channel said on its website.
A 23-year-old Nigerian national, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, boarded Northwest Airlines Flight 253 bound from Amsterdam to Detroit. During the flight, he set off an explosive device but thankfully, due to a technical fault, it did not detonate the way it was supposed to. Passengers and flight crew subdued him and he was arrested upon landing.
A regional branch of Al Qaeda has claimed responsibility for the attempted terrorist attack. While hailing the “brother” who carried out the attack in a statement posted on radical Islamist websites, the terrorist organization said it was retaliation for alleged U.S. strikes on Yemeni soil earlier in December.
U.S. security officials later confirmed that Abdulmutallab was on the U.S. list of terrorist suspects. Abdulmutallab also allegedly claimed after his arrest that he acted on instructions from Al Qaeda.
Under a new classified cooperation agreement, the U.S. would be able to fly cruise missiles, fighter jets or unmanned armed drones against targets in the country, but would remain publicly silent on its role in the airstrikes.
The officials also privately said the Yemeni military had not had sufficient resources to carry out earlier preventive strikes on its own.