Chiara Onassis | 19 March 2012 |
SANA’A: Amidst new reports of violence credited to al-Qaeda, an Islamic terror group which is quickly gaining ground in Yemen with the death of an American national in Taiz, Yemen’s second city, security sources revealed that Ansar al-Sharia, an offshoot of al-Qaeda was now demanding a ransom of $1.2 million against the release of abducted Swiss woman, Sylvia Abrahat.
The Swiss national, a language teacher, was kidnapped last week in the western sea-port of Hodeida where officials admitted that a breakdown in security had allowed gangs and criminals to flourish.
Sylvia was transported by her abductors across 3 provinces to the oil-rich and restive Shabwa, where al-Qaeda militants have established yet another stronghold.
A local sheikh told Bikyamasr.com that a tribal mediation committee had been set in place to negotiate the woman’s release, revealing that Ansar al-Sharia was now demanding a monetary compensation.
Analysts noted that the group’s demand was novel, as usually it sought to free its militants rather than seek financial gain. “The move could underscore the group’s alliance with tribal elements, which in exchange for their allegiance, would demand monetary incentive. Since the central government is not in a position to continue its tribal patronage (or maybe wishes to end the practice), tribal leaders might be looking for alternative alliances. This is something Yemen needs to closely monitor,” said a political science professor at Sana’a University.
Embassies in Yemen are now urging their nationals to take extra precautions when in Yemen, as al-Qaeda is now clearly using foreigners as its target of choice, with renewed threats against foreign interests in the country.