Hadi’s unreserved acknowledgment came after another squall of anger with the deployment of a U.S. Marine Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team (FAST) following violent protests against the U.S. Embassy triggered by a U.S.-made film ridiculing Prophet Muhammad. Several prominent Yemeni leaders condemned the U.S. “occupation” and rejected the presence of foreign military forces on Yemeni soil under any circumstance. In addition, sympathizers of Al Qaida exploited the opportunity to call for continued jihad against the “American invader.” Noticeably, most Yemeni media websites clearly exaggerated the real number of deployed U.S. Marines and their equipment, reporting over 250 Marines and 200 armored vehicles. In its effort to calm public anger, government sources denied these numbers, stating that only 50 Marines with 20 armored vehicles entered the country and proceeded to the U.S. Embassy to replace vehicles damaged by protesters.
Anti-U.S. sentiment was also expressed by political and religious leaders, who demanded the government stop any foreign military intervention on Yemeni territory. Journalist Nasser Arrabyee opined that “the majority of Yemenis on Facebook and Twitter had stated that allowing American forces in Yemen would only increase the number Al Qaida terrorists.” Echoing the same sentiment, the Yemeni Parliament unanimously rejected the presence of any foreign military force on its soil for any reason, demanding an immediate departure of U.S. Marines. MP Nabil Al Basha likewise warned “The American Marine forces will only hurt the feelings of Yemenis and give more sympathy to Al Qaida who may take control over Sana’a and turn it into an arena of armed conflict.” Meanwhile, pro-AQAP voices took the opportunity to intensify their media campaign in various websites and social forums. On one popular forum, an extremist writer posted “an invitation for an American barbecue,” where he called on “honorable jihadists” to join him in enjoying the variety of dishes to include ”Marine Barbecue, Marine Pizza and Marine Burgers.” The writer also posted graphic photos of injured Marines, noting that the added sweetness will be “Yemeni army agents.” He claimed the barbecue venue would be held at the Sheraton Hotel where U.S. Marines were located.