President Obama sends letter, top counter terror advisor, to Yemen

ABC News' Kirit Radia reports:

President Obama sent his top counter terror adviser, John Brennan, to Yemen this week, underscoring his administration’s concern about the rise Islamic militants there.

According to the US Embassy in the capital Sana’a, Brennan also hand-delivered a letter from the president to Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh discussing the fight against militants there and pledging US support.

“We are also committed to helping Yemen achieve a future that builds upon the extraordinary talents of its people and the richness of its history,” Obama said in the letter, according to an excerpt released by the embassy.

The visit comes as Yemen has launched a major offensive against al Qaeda and other militants in the country. Authorities in Yemen tell ABC News they believe they have cornered radical US-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who is believed to have been hiding in Yemen. Al-Awlaki’s internet postings are said to have inspired US Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan to allegedly open fire on fellow soldiers at Fort Hood last November.

Yemen was also the training ground for alleged underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian-born man who tried to blow up a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day last year. Just days earlier the US launched attacks aimed at militants in the country.

The United States has been training Yemen’s military and the Obama administration has increased its economic and humanitarian aid to Yemen to over $110 million last year.

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