Thursday, 30 September 2010

Tit-for tat attacks by Al Qaeda in Yemen

By Nasser Arrabyee/30/09/2010
Al Qaeda has retaliated quickly after Yemen’s security forces drove them out from Al Huta village, in the southern province of Shabwa earlier this week.

Al Qaeda tried, unsuccessfully late Wednesday , to assassinate the military, security and political leaders who led and supervised the campaign against them in Al Huta.

One soldier at least was killed and seven others injured when Al Qaeda fighters ambushed the governor of Shabwa Ali Al Ahmadi, deputy chief of general staff, Salem Al Kotn, security director, Ahmad Al Makdashi and other officials in the area of Yashbom, between Atak and Al Saeed. The security forces are chasing after the attackers who used RPGs to strike the convoy of the officials.

“ the attackers were Al Qaeda and separatists,” security director of Shabwah said after the incident. The officials were in their way back to Atak, the capital of Shabwah, from Al Saeed area, where they had lunch in the house of the deputy chief of the general staff Salem Al Kotn.
Al Saeed area includes the village of the extremist Yemeni-American cleric Anwar Al Awlaki, who is wanted dead or alive for the CIA, and who is believed to be hiding there.

“Al Qaeda attacks now are based on three motives: to prove they are still strong, to take revenge, and to recruit,” said Saeed Al Jemhi, chairman of the Al Jemhi Centre for Studies, a recently established think-tank specialized in Al Qaeda affairs.

Al Jemhi believes that almost 50 percent of the fighters and leaders of Al Qaeda in Yemen are Saudi.
“Saudis are important for finance and for experience,” he said.

The Yemeni forces did not find any fighters of Al Qaeda in town of Al Huta after retaking it early Friday September 24th, 2010.

The storm came after four days of complete siege on the town where about 100 Al Qaeda fighters were cornered by American-trained anti-terror forces from all directions according security and military officials .

The government said after controlling the town that five Al Qaeda fighters and two soldiers were killed and 32 Al Qaeda suspects were arrested many others from both sides injured during all Al Huta operations. The security forces are chasing after the remaining operatives of Al Qaeda in the neighboring mountainous areas between Shabwah and Hudhrmout in the east of the country according to the government officials.

Local residents, however, say that Al Qaeda fighters escaped from the western direction of Al Huta and went to Mareb province , one of the stronghold of Al Qaeda . about 250 km east of the capital Sana’a.

“Al Qaeda realized at the end that the army would destroy the town, so they withdrew, they know what they were doing, and the army was lying when they said they surrounded the town from all directions,” said Abu Ahmed from Al Huta over phone. “I think they went to Mareb because they escaped from western part of the town in the direction of Mareb, they know what they are doing.”

The opposition abroad who inspire the separatist movement in the south accuses the government of using Al Qaeda as a justification to strike separatists and to divert the attention of the world from the southern issue.

“The attack on Al Huta was designed to secure “financial assistance under the pretext of fighting terrorism, and to divert the attention of the leaders of the world from discussing the southern issue from political aspect,” said Ali Salem al-Baidh, the former president of the south before unity in 1990 and who is based in Germany now and calling for separation.

While the Yemeni security forces were combing the town of Al Huta on Friday, September 24th, delegations from about 27 countries from GCC, EU, US, Japan and other international agencies and donors (known as Friends of Yemen) were in a meeting in New York to assess a previous plan to help Yemen get out from its political, economic, development and security problems. The Friends of Yemen said in a statement they support unity, security, and stability of Yemen.

The US plans to give Yemen $1.2 billion in military aid to fight Al Qaida over the upcoming six years. The US military assistance to Yemen for the 2010 increased 155 million US$.
The government from its side accuses the separatists of cooperating and coordinating with Al Qaeda despite the contradicting ideologies of them.

Observers say the separatist and Al Qaeda are only exploiting each to strike the common enemy, the government.

“ Because people are angry from the deteriorating economic situation, you can not differentiate between Al Qaeda and separatists and all against the government, and poor and unemployed young people look at them as heroes,” Kasem Khaleel, a social figure from the southern province of Abyan.

What happen in Al Huta this month had happened last August in Lawdar in the southern province of Abyan where about 30- 40 Al Qaeda fighters escaped after five days of fierce confrontations in which about 33 people were killed including 15 Al Qaeda militants and 11 soldiers were killed.

“They used three pick-up cars and escaped from one of the security check points, the security soldiers let them go at the end,” said Kasem Khaleel quoting local eyewitnesses.
Most of those who escaped from Lawdar last August are believed to have fought with Al Huta group.
The war between Al Qaeda and the Yemeni forces is open and continuing not only in the unstable south but almost everywhere.

On Saturday September 25th, 2010, 10 intelligence officers were injured three of them seriously, when a group of gunmen believed to be Al Qaeda supporters opened fire on a bus carrying soldiers belonging to the Political Security Agency, the intelligence, in the area of Shamlan, a northern outskirt of the Yemeni capital Sana’a. Four suspects were arrested later in the day after security forces were deployed in the capital . This attack came few days after Al Qaeda put 55 security officials by names as legitimate targets .

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