The failed Christmas Day bombing of a Detroit-bound airplane was far from the first terrorist attack dreamed up by the Yemeni wing of al Qaeda, writes Ali H. Soufan, a former FBI agent, in The New York Times. Soufan worked in Yemen to bring to justice the terrorists who blew up the Navy destroyer Cole, killing 17 sailors, in 2000, but after a few years, the culprits were allowed to “escape” from prison. Soufan faults the U.S. for not keeping pressure on the Yemeni government to fight hard against extremists. Yemen’s open borders, strong tribes, and thriving arms market make it an ideal home for al Qaeda, which can easily access key battlegrounds—Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq—from there. And its widespread poverty and illiteracy make it easy to spread fundamentalist propaganda. But it’s still possible to crush al Qaeda in Yemen without sending troops, he says. Yemenis are killing the terrorists and striking their bases, and the U.S. must stay focused and hold the country’s officials accountable for keeping terrorists permanently locked up, he writes.