Following the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, President Ali Abdullah Saleh made an effort to eliminate the Islamist militant presence. Yemeni government troops detained many militants who trained at Al Qaeda camps.
In December 2001, a search by government forces for two Yemeni believed to be senior al Qaeda members hiding near Ma'rib led to a gun battle with tribesmen which ended in the deaths of 32 people, including 18 soldiers. To defuse the situation, ten Ma'rib sheiks were detained as hostages of the state in comfortable rooms in the presidential palace for 35 days, until 43 lesser tribesmen took their place.
In December 2002, Spanish troops boarded and detained a ship, at the request of the United States, that was transporting Scud missiles from North Korea to Yemen. After two days, when the United States determined it had no right under international law to continue to detain the shipment, they let it continue on to Yemen.
On December 30, 2002, a suspected Islamic fundamentalist killed three U.S. workers and wounded one in a hospital in Jibla, using a semi-automatic rifle. The suspect was arrested and identified as Abid Abdulrazzaq Al-Kamil
Jews in Yemen reportedly fled their homes due to threats from Muslim extremists.
Al Qaeda members sent letters to 45 Jews living in al-Salem, near Sanaa, on 19 January 2007, accusing them of involvement in an "international Zionist conspiracy." The letters said that if the Jews did not abandon their homes in ten days, they would be abducted and murdered and their homes would be looted. The Jewish community sent a complaint to President Abdullah Salah and are temporarily staying in a hotel near Sanaa. The Yemeni government has promised that their homes will be protected and they may return to them.