The British ambassador to Yemen, Tim Torlot escaped assassination after a suicide bombing of his security convoy on a narrow section of road on the way to the embassy in Sana'a.


Torlot was unhurt in the attack, which left the bomber dead and three others injured – two security guards escorting the motorcade and a bystander. An investigation was launched into how the bomber – identified as Ali as-Selwi, 22 – was able to identify the route of the convoy and come so close to his assumed target.


Yemen's interior ministry later announced that the bomber was from Taiz, a major city between Sana'a and the southern capital of Aden, and that the attack bore the hallmarks of al-Qaida.


April 26, 2010



Analysis and Forecast: Increasing Risk


The assassination attempt of the UK ambassador carries a number of implications. Although acts of terrorism are not unusual in Yemen, they were becoming less frequent in the capital. The first implication is that Al Qaeda is active in the capital as well as the provinces. This particularly confirms the possibility that Al Qaeda is capable of striking in the capital as well, the last remaining “safe” area in the country.


The other implication is about the means by which the suicide bomber obtained information about the ambassador’s route. This is understood to be only known to close personnel. It therefore highlights the fact that Al Qaeda enjoys widespread support within Yemeni society. Yemen is a closely-knit tribal based country and Al Qaeda has support throughout the levels of society, especially in light of growing unease about the highly corrupt regime. Therefore the ability of Al Qaeda to obtain such sensitive information about the ambassador’s route and strike in the capital confirms the fact that Al Qaeda are both capable to strike and stronger than what the Yemeni officials portray.