Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Al Qaeda moving faster than new government in Yemen

By Nasser Arrabyee, 20/03/2012

Al Qaeda in Yemen has been  trying to  be steps ahead of the newly elected President  and his confused and weak new government in terms of controlling and expanding.

Since February 25, when the new President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi took the constitutional oath as a new elected president,
Al  Qaeda implemented more than 10 operations against military and security forces in  many different provinces especially  in the southern province of Abyan, Al Baida  and Hudrmout where its presence is higher and more overt.

In the main southern  city of Aden, earlier this week,the secret police (intelligence) arrested a man from among activists  protesting in the streets and demanding the separation of the south from the north.

After being arrested, the  man tried to shoot the officers with a pistol he was hiding with him. 

The officers shot him dead immediately and put his deadbody in their car and drove away. The man was wanted as  Al Qaeda operative, security sources confirmed to the weekly later in the day.

Tens of  angry young people  of the area, Al Mualla in Aden, immediately started to block the roads and set fire to tyres demanding the dead body of their 'brother' . It became very difficult for us as reporters that day  to go from place to place through Mualla area inside the city of Aden.

The incident showed clearly that Al Qaeda is inside Aden with supporters and sympathizers who are exploiting the chaos because of the separatist sentiment on one hand, and general  political crisis in the whole country on the other. 

Al Qaeda tried many times before  to take  control over Aden, and threatened many other times but always failed because the coastal city is considered as a " red line" by the Yemeni government and its western friends. 

If Aden falls under the control of Al Qaeda, the whole south  and the Gulf of Aden will be under its control. This may mean the control of the maritime roads through about 2 million barrels of oil pass every day.

" Al Qaeda is everywhere here in Aden also,  but it is not as overt as Abyan, here it is working secretly," said  Hussein Othman, a tribal leader from Abyan who is based in Aden.

" You can find them also among those who fled the war,"  said Othman.
About 130,000 people from Zinjubar, the capital of Abyan, and  the  neighboring areas, are still away from their houses, majority of them   the city of Aden, since May 2011,  when Al Qaeda declared their areas a Taliban-style Islamic Emirates.

The 32-year old Raidan Anwar Kahtan, along with his 10-member family have been living in a secondary school in the coastal city of Aden, with about 1000 people ( known as internally displaced persons, IDPs) for nine  months. 

Like most of the IDPs, Raidan said he is fed up and very eager to return home in Zinjubar.

Last month, Raidan Kahtan decided to go to Zinjubar to see if he could return with his family. 

Zinjubar is only 45 km  away from Aden where the majority of the IDPs are living in schools and some other government buildings with aids from UN and local agencies and charities. 

Raidan  Kahtan told the Ahram Weekly reporter who visited the the IDPs centers in Aden on March 17, 2012, that two guards, Pakistani and Somalian, prevented him from entering his house. 

The partly destroyed house has become a weapon store for Al Qaeda, and the two non-Yemeni guards were safeguarding the weapons which were looted from the military camps in the areas under the control of Al Qaeda in various battles over the last few months.

" 'This is my house' and they said no, 'this is  a weapon store, and we are assigned to safeguard it'," said Raidan sadly and angrily.

The top leader of Al Qaeda in Zinjubar, Jallal Beleidi, was always the neighbor of Raidan and they know each other very well.

"When I went to their  top leader Jallal Beleidi who was previously my neighbor  before we displaced, and he immediately ordered the guards to let me go in my house," said Raidan.

" I was shocked to see my house full of weapons,and  to see our city full of foreigners," he said.

Raidan decided to return to Aden and leave his city for Al Qaeda, which call themselves Ansar Al Shariah, supporters of Islamic Shariah, in an attempt to attract more young people and more support from people inside and outside Yemen. The term Ansar Al Shariah, seemingly "good" name, improves the image of the terrorist Al Qaeda.

" I took  some of my stuff, which we need here, and returned this depressing place again," said Raidan.

Umm Mohammed is a mother of four children in this "depressing" IDPs centre in Crater area of Aden. 

The 38-year old woman said she tried four times to return to her house in Zinjubar after she had become extremely fed up and depressed. The last time she went back was last February. 

" Getting  killed in my house is much better than staying this long here," said Umm Mohammed, who has been  for about nine months in the IDPs centre, which is a high school filled of people like her who escaped the war at the beginning. 

Now there is almost no war, but they can not live with Al Qaeda.

 The  zealous Taliban-style  treatments of Al Qaeda people in her city Zinjubar, made Umm Mohammed change her mind about staying in  her house with these strange people preventing her to  live her life  as she wants. 

Every time  she goes out, they ask her about her  'Mahram' a male relative who  should be always with her. 

Umm Mohammed  is a widow, her husband died nine years ago. She has been earning money by doing some work to support her four children. She is used to do everything to raise and  send her children to school. 

"The last time I was there in February, Al Qaeda people prevented me from going out with my red shoes,"  she said.

Al Qaeda people said the colored shoes  would attract the attention of the men to Umm Mohammed and this violates their interpretation of Islam.

She went back to the house and took an old brown  pair of shoes, but they stopped her and forced her to return home again.

" Then I decided to go bare-footed , because my children were very hungry and I needed to bring some food from the market,"  she said.

While walking in the street of the war-destroyed city with her body completely covered in black, one of Al Qaeda men saw a toe of her foot and he started to yell at her to go home or she will be beaten.

" Then I decided to return here, to this camp whatever bad it is, it will not be worse than treatments of these strange people," she told the weekly.

On Sunday March 18, 2012, Al Qaeda operatives killed an American English teacher in the southern central city of Taiz. Al Qaeda claimed responsibility saying the American man was a missionary.

On Friday March 16, 2012, tribesmen from the southern-eastern province of Shabwa, mostly controlled by Al Qaeda, kidnapped a Swiss woman from the western coastal city of Hodeidah. 

"The Swiss hostage is safe somewhere here, and the kidnappers are waiting for negotiations for her release,"  Sheikh Ali Abdul Sallam, a tribal leader  close to kidnappers, said on Tuesday.

The ministry of interior said 6 Somalians  who were fighting woth Al Qaeda in Abyan were arrested.


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