A U.S. embassy security team member from Yemen was reportedly gunned down today in the Yemeni capital.
Qassim Aklan was killed when a gunman on a motorcycle pulled alongside his car and opened fire in the middle of Sanaa, according to reports by The Associated Press and Reuters. The State Department said Aklan worked on the security staff for the embassy as a Foreign Service National Investigator and had been an employee of the U.S. government for more than a decade.
State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters today the agency was “deeply saddened” by the loss of a “dedicated professional who will be greatly missed.”
“We condemn this vicious act in the strongest terms possible and extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends at this difficult time,” she said.
Aklan’s death comes a month after four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed in a terrorist attack on a diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya.
In a dramatic Congressional hearing Wednesday, State Department officials faced tough questions about whether it had failed to respond to concerns about the security of its staff in Libya, an obviously violent nation, before the attack.
U.S. officials have said the Benghazi attack may be linked to Ansar al-Sharia, a militant group with ties to the al Qaeda affiliate al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). One security source indicated to Reuters that today’s murder in Yemen could have been the work of another al Qaeda regional affiliate, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
In recent years, top U.S. officials have said regional affiliates of the terrorist group, especially AQAP and AQIM, pose a greater threat to the U.S. homeland and American interests abroad than the “core” al Qaeda group that was led by Osama bin Laden before his death last May.