Why the Devil Were You Sightseeing in Yemen?

Sana'a, YemenI realize that there are seasoned, experienced travelers out there who know how to get around in dangerous countries (I'm not one of them, at least, not without Peej telling me who to bribe). I realize that there really are Americans who go overseas and have adventures and whatnot.

But, what the hell were these people doing in Yemen?

The U.S. Embassy in San'a said it was working with Yemeni authorities to resolve the situation.

The security officials, a taxi driver and tribesmen said the two - a man and a woman - were seized while traveling in al-Hudaydah province west of the capital, San'a.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Taxi driver Mohammed Saleh, who was driving the two, said six gunmen stopped them on the road and took them to the al-Hamra village. Al-Sharda tribesmen said the hostages were now "guests" in the village.

How do we know Mr. Saleh didn't sell these people? How do we know these Americans won't be bought by any of a number of terror cells?

I do know one thing--I know how to read the State Department Travel Warning Website:

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the high security threat level in Yemen due to terrorist activities.  The Department recommends that American citizens defer non-essential travel to Yemen.  American citizens remaining in Yemen despite this warning should monitor the  U.S. Embassy website and should make contingency emergency plans.  This replaces the Travel Warning for Yemen issued June 26, 2009.

The security threat level remains high due to terrorist activities in Yemen.  The U.S. Embassy in Sana’a, Yemen closed on January 3 and 4, 2010, in response to ongoing threats by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to attack American interests in Yemen. Following the attempted attack aboard Northwest Airlines flight 253 on December 25, 2009, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) publicly claimed responsibility for the incident and stated that it was in response to what they described as American interference in Yemen. In the same statement, the group made threats against Westerners working in embassies and elsewhere, characterizing them as “unbelievers” and “crusaders.”  On the morning of September 17, 2008, armed terrorists attacked the U.S. Embassy in Sana'a, Yemen.  A number of explosions occurred in the vicinity of the Embassy's main gate.  Several Yemeni security personnel and one Embassy security guard were killed, as were a few individuals waiting to gain entry to the Embassy, one of whom was a U.S. citizen.

U.S. Embassy employees have been advised to exercise caution when choosing restaurants, hotels or visiting tourist areas in Sana’a in order to avoid large gatherings of foreigners and expatriates.  Only limited travel outside of the capital is authorized at this time.

U.S. citizens who travel to or remain in Yemen despite this warning should exercise caution and take prudent security measures, including maintaining a high level of vigilance, avoiding crowds and demonstrations, keeping a low profile, varying times and routes for all travel, and ensuring travel documents are current.  American citizens in Yemen are advised to exercise particular caution at locations frequented by foreigners countrywide, including restaurants and hotels frequented by expatriates.  From time to time, the Embassy may restrict official Americans from restaurants, hotels, or shopping areas.  The Department of State strongly encourages American citizens to consult the most recent Warden Messages on the U.S. Embassy website to get up-to-date information on security conditions.  Americans who believe they are being followed or threatened while driving in urban centers should proceed as quickly as possible to the nearest police station or major intersection and request assistance from the officers in the blue-and-white police cars stationed there.

I mean, Christ. Why not just go see what Mogadishu looks like this time of year?

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