Chiara Onassis | 25 March 2012
SANA’A: US ambassador to Yemen, Gerard Feierstein expressed his concerns over the role played by Sheikh Abdel-Mageed al-Zindani within al-Islah party, Yemen’s Islamic political faction as he reminded President Abdu Rabbo Mansour in a meeting this Sunday that the prominent cleric was topping the list of America’s Most Wanted Terrorists and has been for several years.
Sheikh Zindani whose son, Mohamed called for a jihad against American intervention in Yemen, has for many years stated his fierce dislike for the White House, often accusing former President Ali Abdullah Saleh of collaboration with the enemies of Islam, as the latter was working with the US against al-Qaeda, an Islamic terror group operating in the Middle East.
The sheikh, who enjoyed President Saleh’s protection, as the autocrat refused to hand out the clerics to the Americans, fearing such a move would trigger a tribal uprising, was suddenly branded a pariah by the regime as he directly opposed Saleh’s rule last year, siding with the revolutionaries in their demands for change. An arrest warrant was issued for him, last year under Saleh’s order, but no action has been taken.
Suspected to be leading a reported 2,000 hardened jihadists, the sheikh is a not only a prominent cleric, a powerful tribal leader and senior leader of al-Islah party, he is also a key ally of Sheikh Sadeeq al-Ahmar, the mighty tribal chief of the Hasheed confederation of tribes, making him a mighty opponent indeed and a bit of a thorn in the side of the government, with nobody daring to directly attack him.
Moreover, the ambassador reiterated a warning against Tehran’s meddling in Yemen’s internal affairs, stressing that Iran was continuing to push al-Houthis’ insurgency movement and the southern secessionist movement in Aden to better destabilize the country and further its own political agenda for the region.
Feierstein called on President Hadi to stand the course of the power-transfer, urging all parties to fully commit and cooperate with the government as he said only through national dialogue would the country move away from the specter of civil war.