WASHINGTON — The United States has quietly opened a third, largely covert front against the Al-Qaeda terror network in Yemen, The New York Times reported.
Citing an unnamed former top CIA official, the newspaper said that a year ago the Central Intelligence Agency sent many field operatives with counterterrorism experience to the country.
At the same time, some of the most secretive special operations commandos have begun training Yemeni security forces in counterterrorism tactics, the report said.
The Pentagon will be spending more than 70 million dollars over the next 18 months, and using teams of special forces, to train and equip Yemeni military, Interior Ministry and coast guard forces, more than doubling previous military aid levels, the paper noted.
The country has long been a refuge for jihadists, in part because Yemen?s government welcomed returning Islamist fighters who had fought in Afghanistan during the 1980s, the report pointed out.
But Al-Qaeda militants have made much more focused efforts to build a base in Yemen in recent years, drawing recruits from throughout the region and mounting more frequent attacks on foreign embassies and other targets, according to The Times.
The White House is seeking to nurture enduring ties with the government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh and prod him to combat the local Al-Qaeda affiliate, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the paper said.
New Zealand tightens gun laws again after mosque attack
New Zealand announced plans for a national firearms register Monday in its second round of gun law reforms following the Christchurch mosque attacks which killed 51 Muslim worshippers.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said regulations around who could hold firearm licences would also be tightened to "stop weapons falling into the wrong hands".
Ardern said the March 15 killings, when a gunman opened fire at two Christchurch mosques as worshippers gathered for Friday prayers, had changed attitudes towards gun ownership in New Zealand.
"There is a new normal around firearms, it is a change of mindset," she told reporters.
Mascots and javelin carriers: Tokyo adds robots to Olympic roster
A roster of Olympic robots that will do everything from welcoming visitors to transporting javelins has been unveiled as Tokyo works to showcase Japanese technology at next year's Summer Games.
Japan hopes the 2020 Olympics will be a chance to put its tech sector back on the map after years in which the country's reputation as an industry leader has flagged.
Auto giant Toyota has a roster of five robots with different roles to play, from cutesy renditions of the Olympic mascots to a staid transport bot.
Final hours of voting in race to become British PM
The voting closes Monday in the contest to become Britain's next prime minister, with Boris Johnson expected to be confirmed as the winner charged with delivering Brexit.
After a month-long contest between former London mayor Johnson and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, the postal votes of up to 160,000 grassroots Conservatives will decide the governing party's next leader.
The voting window slams shut at 5:00pm (1600 GMT).
The result will be announced on Tuesday, with the winner immediately becoming the new Conservative leader, the victor taking office as prime minister on Wednesday.