The protests in Yemen have counterterrorism officials in this country particularly worried. That's because Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has been a key U.S. ally in the fight against al-Qaida.
Several hundred fighters who are known as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, are based in Yemen. The group, which was behind the Christmas Day bombing attempt on Northwest Flight 253, also sent printer-cartridge bombs to the U.S. on cargo planes last fall. (Saudi intelligence revealed the plot to U.S. officials before the bombs went off.)
AQAP's chief propagandist is Anwar al-Awlaki, the Internet imam who has been linked to a number of terrorist plots against the U.S. and Europe, including the shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, two years ago. U.S. National Intelligence Director James Clapper told Congress last month that AQAP is "increasingly devoted" to attacking the United States.