Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Al Qaeda under fire in Yemen

By Nasser Arrabyee /23/12/2009

Al Qaeda in Yemen is outraging after the US-backed government killed and arrested dozens of them in three simultaneous operations in three different places last Thursday December 17.

The government vowed to continue crackdown on the terrorists wherever they are, as air raids continued Tuesday to bomb the area of Rafdh in Shabwa province where about 50 Al Qaeda operatives are hiding.

Al Qaeda says, it will strike back against the US and its agent, the Yemeni government.

The Thursday's operations, which targeted an Al Qaeda training camp in the south, and a group of 8 would-be suicide bombers in the north, have gained a regional and international support.

Nevertheless, such operations angered many local people because many women and children were killed in the operation, which targeted the training camp in Al Majalah, a mountainous and remote place in Abyan province close to Shabwah south of the country where Al Qaeda has been enhancing its presence.

In a tribal gathering held Monday in Al Majalah, the tribesmen from both provinces of Abyan and Shabwa, demanded a neutral investigation in what they called a massacre against civilians from the two tribes of Al Haidarah and Al Ambor.

Al Qaeda was openly present in the gathering with a defiant speaker promising the annoyed tribesmen that the victory against American is very soon.

He vowed to strike the US and its agents in retaliation for the people who were killed in the Thursday's raids.

"The war in Yemen is between Al Qaeda and US and not between Al Qaeda and the Yemeni army," said the man, who was unmasked with an armed bodyguard standing behind him.

Speaking to thousands of tribesmen, he said, "The soldiers should understand that we do not want to fight them, there is no problem between us and soldiers, the problem is between us and America, so, they must not stand with America, the victory is coming soon for us."

Sources, from the site of gathering, identified the man as Mohammed Saleh Al Awlaki, from Shabwah, and that he is relative to Fahd Al Kus'a, who was involved in the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000.

Observers say it was almost impossible to strike the training camp without casualties from women and children who were used as human shields by the terrorists.

"Al Qaeda everywhere is not only fighters alone, it's always, family , organization, mosque, and training camp, so apparently, it was almost impossible discriminate in that strike, " said Ahmed Al Sufi, President of the Democracy Development Institute, local NGO, based in Sana'a.

Al Qaeda leader Mohammed Saleh Al Kazimi, who was killed in the operation, along with his four family members, was living among Al Ambor tribe as a respectable Al Qaeda leader, according to local sources.

The sources said non-Yemeni AlQaeda fighters and also Yemenis (not from Abyan) were forming a group in Al Majalah under the leadership of Al Kazimi who was running the training camp, which was only tens of meters from his village where he, relatives, cousins, and his comrades from Al Qaeda live.

However, some local residents of Al Majalah, where the State's authority is almost absent, deny there is a training camp for Al Qaeda, but not deny the presence of Al Qaeda itself.

"There is no training camp here, Al Qaeda is walking in Sana'a and Aden and everywhere, why they (the government) only strike here," said Mukbel Mohammed Ali Al Ambori, in an interview over phone from Al Majalah.

"Mohammed Saleh Al Kazimi has the right to live with his family and relatives and cousins in
Al Ambor, and if he is Al Qaeda, then he should be punished alone."

"A total of 45 women and children, and more than 1000 various animals were killed from the Bedouins of Haidarah and Al Ambor," said Al Ambori, who is member of the local council of the area of Al Mahfad, which includes Al Majalah.

Despite all criticism, the strike against Al Qaeda is viewed by some analysts as the beginning of the end of at least the training activity in the country.

"The strike was strategic to rescue Yemen from becoming a save haven for the training camps of Al Qaeda," said Al Sufi, who expected a strong retaliation act from Al Qaeda even though.

"So, both governments should stand ready for confronting the possible retaliation attacks from Al Qaeda," he said.

"If Al Qaeda is not dismantled and cleared from Abyan, Shabwa, Mareb and Al Jawf, a disaster to the world, not only to Yemen, would happen," warns Al Sufi.

"Al Qaeda is only a tool for internationalize the conflicts inside the countries, so it must be uprooted from any country seeking security and stability."

However, Abdul Elah Haidar Shaya, an expert in terrorism affairs, played down the Thursday's operations against Al Qaeda saying they will only increase the new recruitment of Al Qaeda.

"The operation was against civilians, which means Al Qaeda will gain from that strike by recruiting a lot of angry people," he said.

While the government says, 34 Al Qaeda operatives were killed and 30 others were arrested in the three simultaneous operations in Sana'a, Arhab, and Abyan, the local residents in Al Majalah say 45 civilians were killed most of them were women and children.

The autopsies have confirmed that at least 12 dead bodies were wanted by the security authorities as al Qaeda operatives.

Mohammed Saleh Al Kazimi, Mukbel Abdullah Awadh Shiekh, Ahmed Abdullah Awadh, Methak Al Jalad, Abdullah Awadh Shiekh were confirmed dead in Al Majalah area according to an official statement.

Four others were killed in the operation implemented in Arhab, east of Sana'a province, where 8 would-be suicide bombers were planning to target Yemeni and western interests. The other four were arrested.

Two Saudi nationals, Ibrahim Al Najdi, Mohammed Rajeh Al Tharan, both wanted as Al Qaeda operatives, were found among the dead bodies.

Five more foreigners, with unknown identities, were also found.

Four other Al Qaeda injured men, Abdullah Salem Ali, Abdul Rahman Mohammed Kaed, Haidarh Salem Alia Fatah Al Amri, and Mohammed Ali Salem, were arrested later in a hospital where they are now having treatment under the supervision of the security authorities.

Inside the Yemeni capital, more than 29 Al Qaeda members were arrested on the same day of these operations.

The 29 men, aged 20s, were supposed to help the 8 would-be suicide bombers of Arhab to implement their tasks against Yemeni and Western targets.

The arrests took place without any clashes as the raids on the houses were according to very accurate information about the men.

The leader of Al Qaeda in Arhab area, Aref Mujali, brother of Hezam Mujali who escaped the raid, was arrested in the operation.

Aref and Hezam Mujali are the sons of Yahya Mujali, an Al Qaeda operative who was killed in his house in clashes with security forces in Al Rawdha area in the city of Sana'a in 2003.

The leading member of Al Qaeda Fawaz Al Rabyee got married to the daughter of Mujali before he was killed in a hunt down operation at an outskirt of the capital Sana'a in 2006.

No comments:

Post a Comment