SECURING EMBASSIES SECURITY – TENSIONS RISE
News this morning that the chief of security at the US Embassy in the Yemeni city of Sanaa was shot dead is yet another reminder of the severe threats facing security personnel who protect consular staff and their families.
The BBC is reporting this morning that a Yemeni man working on security issues with the US embassy in the capital Sanaa has been killed in a drive-by shooting. Qassem Aqlani was going to work when he was shot dead by a man on a motorbike, Yemeni and embassy officials said.
Mr Aqlani had worked at the embassy for nearly 20 years, AP news agency said.
According to another report, he was in charge of co-ordinating an investigation into an attack on the embassy last month.
This shooting comes not long after US Ambassador Christopher Stevens died in a terrorist attack in Benghazi one month ago on September 11.
The attack in Yemen also comes one day after White House spokesman Jay Carney told reportersWednesday that in hindsight “there is no question that the security [in Benghazi] was not enough to prevent that tragedy from happening.”
However, the CBC is also reporting that officials from the U.S. State Department said that security levels at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi were adequate for the threat level on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, but that the compound was overrun by an “unprecedented attack” by dozens of heavily armed extremists.
“We had the correct number of assets in Benghazi at the time of 9/11,” said Charlene Lamb, the deputy secretary of state for diplomatic security in charge of protecting American embassies and consulates around the world.
Lamb noted that there were five diplomatic security agents at the consulate at the time of the attack, along with additional Libyan guards and a rapid response team at a nearby annex.
As details emerge from Yemen, and while U.S. officials debate over the state of embassy security readiness globally, the reality is that securing consular staff is as important – and as dangerous – as ever.