By Nasser Arrabyee/02/11/2010
The religious extremism that moved from Saudi Arabia to Yemen is among the main reasons why Yemen has become a bastion for Al Qaeda, said analysts and experts interviewed by the Gulf News.
Graduates of the Saudi-financed Salafi schools that are spread throughout the poverty-stricken country can be recruited easily by extremist groups.
“Graduates of these schools are almost ready to be Al Qaeda members,” said Saeed Obaid, chairman of the Al Jemhi centre for researches and studies, a think-tank specialized in Al Qaeda affairs.
Obaid mentioned in particular the first ever Dammaj centre in Sa’ada which was founded by the late Salafi cleric Mukbel Al Wadi who graduated from the Saudi Wahabi schools. Nearly 4000 schools existing now are imitating the mother school of Dammaj which was founded in late 1980s.
“ The top leader of Al Qaeda in Yemen, Nasser Al Wahaishi graduated from such schools,” said Obaid who studied for a while in Dammaj school before he became a researcher and the author of the book Al Qaeda in Yemen.
“ The leader of Al Qaeda in Mudia Jamil Al Ambori, who was killed in a security operation last March graduated from Dammaj centre and many other prominent members.”
Yemen has become once again under the spotlight after two parcel bombs ,sent to United States from Yemen, discovered last week in two airplanes one in Dubai and the other in London. Yemen was under a similar global spotlight earlier this year after the Nigerian terrorist Omar Farouk failed to bomb an airplane over United States.
Among others also, one more reason why Yemen has become bastion of Al Qaeda is the leadership of Anwar Al Awlaki , the Yemen-American extremist cleric who is wanted dead or alive by the CIA for his involvement in terrorist plots.
Al Awlaki is leading Al Qaeda in Yemen although he has not declared yet he is a member of Al Qaeda , and likewise Al Qaeda has not declared he is its leader or even a member.
“He is very smart not to declare himself in Al Qaeda, and this is the only thing he has not done yet, because it’s not in his interest now nor in the interest of Al Qaeda,” Obaid said “The world looks at Al Qaeda as absolute evil and he wants to have people say about him he’s not Al Qaeda.”
“It’s like a person calling himself a peacemaker while he’s killing and fighting,” Obaid said.
Some other observers see that Yemen has become one of the fields of the global war on Al Qaeda and this war is using all tactics, and tricks.
“What’s happening now in the world is a real war with all its styles and tricks and Yemen is one of the fields of this war,” said Ali Saif Hassan, chairman of the political forum for development, a local NGO.
Hassan sees that Al Qaeda is implementing this war in two levels: The level of the original Al Qaeda which focuses on the international major projects and strategies, and the second level is the newly recruited members of Al Qaeda who implement local operations like killing security and military soldiers.
“In the past Al Qaeda would send its young men to the volatile places like Afghanistan and Iraq , but today Yemen has become one of the war fields, so they do not need to send anymore now.”
The stronger Al Qaeda becomes in Yemen, the more worried the world gets especially the west. The fragile and corrupt Yemeni government cannot fight Al Qaeda alone. Donors who promise to support Yemen’s development keep procrastinating because of lack of confidence in the capabilities of the government to spend the money.
Given this situation: Al Qaeda getting stronger, the government being unable to fight alone, the danger increasing, made some people in Yemen say that the incident of the parcel bombs of last week , was only a game to find a justification for US and its allies to strike Al Qaeda directly.
“There is something being done to justify American strikes against Yemen ,” said Nabil Al Bukairi, researcher specialized in Al Qaeda. “Why only Saudi Arabia was the first to tell about the packages, does this mean Al Qaeda is penetrated (infiltrated) by the Saudi intelligence,” he wondered.
The victim of that game was a female student in Sana’a university, who attracted the attention of the whole world after being arrested by Yemeni security for suspicion of being behind sending the parcel bombs because a copy of her ID was found in the parcels. But it was only less than 24 hours until she appears on TV to tell the shocked world “I’m innocent someone else did it!”
Yemen security forces and investigators from US, UK and UAE are still searching for that one who came to the FedEx office in Sana’a claiming (she or he) was that female student. The FedEx people said a veiled woman (completely covered) delivered the parcels but that might have been a man who knows?
Earlier, Hanan Al Samawi was arrested.
“Hanan was here with us yesterday, studying and discussing graduation projects,” said the classmates of the Yemeni girl who was arrested in Yemen for suspicion over sending explosives packages to United States.
The 24-year old Hanan Al Samawi , on Saturday February 30, 2010, attended as usual the faculty of engineering at the government-run Sana’a university where she is specializing in computer engineering. Hanan, who is the in fifth year, the last year in her bachelor degree, was arrested only hours after she got home.
“Hanan brought to us yesterday her laptop for fixing some soft wares in it, how come she is today accused of terrorism, this is something unbelievable,” said Yahya Al Hammadi, the chairman of the students’ union at the faculty of engineering.
When Hanan was arrested she was only with her mother and two other younger sisters in her house in Shamlan area at the northern outskirt of the Yemeni capital Sana’a. Many military vehicles and counter-terrorism forces including women soldiers surrounded the whole neighborhood not only the house of Hana.
Relatives told a local human rights group that they the security men used a friend of Hana to call her to open the door and she opened.
“ They deceived her by letting one of her friends call her, and opened quickly in home clothes , not veiled, and the security stormed the house,” said the human rights activist Abdul Rahman Barman who is working a lawyer for Hanan although he has not seen her or any of her relatives yet.
The 45-year mother of Hanan, insisted to go with her daughter and security took both of them to unknown place, usually in such cases the headquarters of the National Security Agency.
“I do not know the fate of my daughter and my wife,” the shocked father said Sunday after came back from the eastern province of Hudhrmout where works in an oil company.
Mohammed Ahmed Al Samawi, the father, said his daughter is innocent.
“My daughter has been always from home to college,” he said.
The male classmates in the faculty of engineering were also shocked when they heard the news about Hanan.
“Hanan was always quiet and nice with every one there must have been something wrong,” Said her classmate Sumiyah.
For her interests, some of her colleagues said she was always interested in Piano.
“She is not even too religious, she is very normal, listens to music and dances and she was smart and very interested in her studies,” said her classmate Rasha.
Hundreds of students from the faculty of engineering made demonstration inside their college demanding the release of their colleague Hanan.
The Yemeni parliament discussed the issue of the packages and supported what President Saleh said yesterday that he would continue fighting the terrorism and would not allow any external interference.
Some MPs said intelligence game was behind the packages with aim of targeting Yemen