Source: ABC News, By Craig McMurtrie, 07/12/2010
The New York Times is reporting that 23 Australian citizens have been added to a US terrorism watch list because of their activities in Yemen.
The details are included in a diplomatic cable from the US embassy in Sanaa, sent to the Times by WikiLeaks but not released publicly.
The cable reportedly says 23 Australian citizens and residents were added to terrorism watch lists because of their activities in Yemen, or because of their connection to an American radical cleric who was hiding there.
The US embassy in Yemen was tracking expatriates suspected of having links to extremists.
According to the US newspaper, many of the Australians were women.
The January cable says Al Qaeda operatives in Yemen wanted to identify a female for a future attack.
The US State Department's counter-terrorism chief has refused to comment on the WikiLeaks report.
Daniel Benjamin, who is currently in Australia, says he will not verify WikiLeaks intelligence or comment on individuals.
But he has acknowledged more should have been done in the past to contain terrorism in Yemen.
"There are a number of English-speaking radicals who have had a kind of magnetic effect on English speakers who have gone to Yemen, often for language training," he said.
"Because the government in Yemen has been challenged to extend its remit to a number of different parts of the country, it has been a congenial place for terrorists to operate."