CAIRO, Egypt – A statement on a Web site known for carrying Islamic extremist comment has threatened to turn Yemen into a "third swamp" for U.S. forces now fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Passages from the same statement, which surfaced in full Tuesday on the Web, were carried Friday by the Asharq al-Awsat newspaper, which said it had received it from the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigade (search).
The shadowy group takes its name from a top Al Qaeda (search) lieutenant who was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Afghanistan in 2001 and has claimed responsibility for a number of attacks on Western targets. Counterterrorism experts question whether it has any agents capable of launching attacks and say some of its claims are obviously exaggerated.
The statement signed by the brigade also referred to a truce offer to Europe purportedly made by Al Qaeda chief Usama bin Laden three months ago, saying the offer would expire in a few days.
"Our goals in the next phase: expanding the circle of conflict by spreading operations all around the world. (We will) drag America into a third swamp — after Iraq and Afghanistan — and let it be Yemen, God willing," the 10-page statement said.
It claimed a terrorist group working in Yemen had taken its name from Abu Ali al-Harthi, bin Laden's top lieutenant in Yemen when he and five other Al Qaeda suspects were killed by U.S. forces in November. Al-Harthi was a suspect in the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole (search) in a Yemeni port in which 17 sailors were killed.
The statement comes as Yemen prepares to open the trial of several suspects in the USS Cole attack, possibly as early as this week. The trial has been expected to start, then delayed, many times.