Dozens of militants, many of them suspected al Qaeda members, have today escaped a Yemeni prison located in the south-eastern province of Hadramout, by using a tunnel they dug over the past months in what appeared to be a brazen, coordinated jailbreak, according to reports.
According to the Associated Press, security officials in Yemen have said that one soldier was killed and at least one other wounded when militants outside the prison attacked it, presumably to create a distraction that provided 57 militants enough cover to escape through a tunnel, enabling 62 inmates made off in the confusion.
"The al-Qaida fugitives also attacked some of the security soldiers outside the prison in Mukalla city, the provincial capital city of Hadramout, killing one soldier and injuring two others," al-Jirazie said.
Meanwhile, Reuters reported all of the prisoners were Yemeni and most had been jailed after returning from fighting in Iraq for the insurgents.
Yemen, already in the midst of a violent national upheaval, is home to one of Al-Qaeda's most notorious affiliates al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), whose leaders include U.S.-born radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.
Last week ABC News obtained information that showed the late al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had repeatedly urged senior al Qaeda operatives in Yemen to carry out terror attacks in the United States.
"Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is strictly, or has been strictly focused on attacks in the US homeland," Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Mike Rogers told ABC News in an exclusive interview then. "This morning, when you're over your breakfast cereal there is somebody in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula planning another attack in the U.S."
In April, more than 500 Taliban fighters made a similar escape from an Afghan jail, slipping through two underground tunnels. According to the version of events for that escape posted on the Taliban's official website, the main tunnel took five months to build and passed under a highway and police checkpoints.
A U.S. military official conceded then that the prison break was a "disaster," but noted that the prison is entirely run by Afghans, and that only low-level fighters were housed there before adding that said that significant or high-value prisoners are routinely moved to U.S. control.
It has also been reported that a number of Yemen's southern and eastern provinces have experienced a surge of al- Qaeda presence and activity during the past two months, as the organisation try to gain advantage from which the precarious situation in the country.
As the organisation has obviously taken the time to plan the prisoners escape both in Afghanistan and in Yemen, analysts now fear that Al Qaeda is trying to prepare an important terrorist attack on the West.
While Bin Laden reportedly urged senior al Qaeda operatives in Yemen to carry out terror attacks in the United States , after being appointed as the new leader of the organisation Ayman al-Zawahiri said in a video
"The sheikh has departed, may God have mercy on him, to his God as a martyr and we must continue on his path of jihad to expel the invaders from the land of Muslims and to purify it from injustice."
"Today and thanks be to God, America is not facing an individual or a group, but a rebelling nation, which has awoken from its sleep in a jihadist renaissance."
Also on June 2, a new two hour, two part video message was released on the Internet in which American-born al Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn calls on Muslims living in America to carry out deadly one-man terrorist acts targeting major institutions as well as public figures. Included in the video were images of American companies, signalling an emphasis on financial institutions as potential targets.
"What are you waiting for?" asks Gadahn, adding that "Muslims in the West have to remember that they are perfectly placed to play an important and decisive part in the jihad against the Zionists and Crusaders, and to do major damage to the enemies of Islam, waging war on their religion, sacred places, and things, and brethren."
Titled, "Do Not Rely on Others, Take the Tasks Upon Yourself," the video contains old videos of Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and other al Qaeda leaders praising one-man attacks in which they call on jihadists in the West to carry out lone-wolf operations. The video also included images of alleged underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and accused Fort Hood shooter Major Nidal Hasan. Both Hasan and Abdulmutallab are charged with carrying out attacks inside the US.
Gadahn encourages Muslims to pursue attacks by any means available. "Let's take America as an example. America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms. You can go down to a gun show at the local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle, without a background check, and most likely without having to show an identification card."
Also, in January, the AQAP published an article alluding to attacks on the financial sector: "We therefore suggest that the following should be targeted: Government owned property; Banks; Global corporations; Wealth belonging to disbelievers with known animosity towards Muslims."
While it is understandable that many fear Al Qaeda will try to avenge its leader's death and plot against the west, in the last few years, due to heighten security level, all its attempt were stopped long before they could even come to fruition.