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High-Value Target: Countering al-Qaeda in Yemen
“Few Americans know more about Yemen than Hull, who served there in the years immediately following 9/11.”
STEVE KROFT, “60 Minutes”
Since its inception, al Qaeda has aspired to create a safe haven in Yemen, where it has operated against U.S. and Yemeni interests. From 2001 to 2004, when Edmund Hull was U.S. ambassador to Yemen, U.S. and Yemeni counterterrorism efforts successfully seized the initiative against al Qaeda, severely degrading its capabilities. During this period, al Qaeda mounted no successful operations against U.S. interests in Yemen and suffered the loss of its top leadership and cadres.
In High-Value Target, published by Potomac Books, Ambassador Hull recounts how al Qaeda’s Yemeni safe haven was disrupted during his tenure. A top counterterrorism official in both the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, Hull provides a detailed account of how his team executed a broad strategy to improve Yemen’s security and economic development. Their strategy included launching successful strikes against al Qaeda’s leadership; engaging in sustained, personal involvement in Yemen’s remote tribal areas; and fostering Yemen’s nascent democracy and civil society. Plagued by profound distrust, scarce resources, and constant threats, the U.S. diplomatic team encountered numerous obstacles but ultimately positioned Yemen on a path toward enhanced security and modest political progress.
EDMUND J. HULL was a career Foreign Service officer fluent in Arabic whose 30-year service included posts in Jerusalem, Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen. From 1999 to 2001, he was deputy then acting coordinator for counterterrorism in the State Department, for which he received the CIA’s George H. W. Bush Award for Excellence in Counterterrorism. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, he was sent as ambassador to Yemen (2001–4), for which he received a Presidential Meritorious Service Award. In retirement, he was Princeton University’s first diplomat-in residence. He currently consults for the U.S. military and resides in Washington, D.C.