High-Value Target


High-Value Target

Countering al Qaeda in Yemen

Amb. Edmund J. Hull (Ret.)
Foreword by Amb. Marc Grossman

192 pages


April 2011


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eBook (PDF)

November 2011


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About the Book

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 J. Hull was the American 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.High-Value Target tells the inside story of how al Qaeda’s Yemeni safe haven was disrupted during Hull’s tenure. A top counterterrorism official in both the Clinton and Bush administrations, Hull provides a detailed account of a team effort to build a strategic basis for U.S.-Yemeni counterterrorism and to execute a broad strategy aimed at improving not only the security of Yemen but also its economic development.That 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.

Author Bio

Amb. Edmund J. Hull is a retired Foreign Service officer and fluent Arabic speaker whose service includes Jerusalem, Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen. He earned the CIA’s George H. W. Bush Award for Excellence in Counterterrorism for service in Washington (1999–2001) and a Presidential Meritorious Service Award for service in Yemen (2001–4). Following his retirement, he has taught at Princeton University and he currently consults for the U.S. military. He enjoys offshore sailing and resides in Washington, D.C., when not at sea.


“Few Americans know more about Yemen than Hull, who served there in the years immediately following 9/11.”—Steve Kroft, 60 Minutes

High-Value Target is important reading for anyone wishing to understand the complicated nature of Yemen. I witnessed the terrorist threat there firsthand, having served as the FBI case agent for the investigation into the USS Cole bombing and for subsequent threats and attacks after 9/11. I appreciate Ambassador Hull’s efforts to balance very real counterterrorism needs in Yemen with political pressures from Washington that seek to put U.S. counterterrorism emphasis elsewhere.”—Ali Soufan, former FBI supervisory special agent

“Former U.S. Amb. Edmund Hull provides fascinating insights into how al Qaeda in Yemen was crushed between 2001 and 2004 and why it was able to return, with greater virulence, as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in 2009. This book is must reading for those trying to divine what lies ahead for Yemen in a changing Arab world.”—Trudy Rubin, Worldview columnist, Philadelphia Inquirer

"[High-Value Target] suggests what much of American diplomacy is going to be like for the coming decades, and deserves close attention."—Amb. Marc Grossman, Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan

"High-Value Target is not only a fascinating firsthand account by the ambassador who helped defeat al Qaeda in Yemen the first time but also a playbook for defeating them the second time."—Gregory Johnsen, an expert on Yemen based at Princeton University and author of the Wag al-Waq blog on Yemen