Yemen has focused on political transition since longtime President Ali Abdullah Saleh left office early this year. The country is beleaguered by security challenges from al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, the Yemeni arm of the terrorist group.
Yemeni officials confirmed to the BBC a U.S. citizen was arrested in Shabwa province and taken to a prison in Sanaa.
Yemeni forces, supported by tribal fighters and the U.S. military, have ramped up their campaign against al-Qaida strongholds in southern Yemen.
Missiles fired from unmanned aerial vehicles reportedly operated by the CIA have skilled key al-Qaida targets, including leading ideologue Anwar al-Awlaki. Awlaki was a U.S. citizen educated in the United States before joining al-Qaida's ranks.