By Fatik al-Rodaini
SANA'A, May 1, 2012- A tribal source in Yemen southern province of Abyan said that 3 Swedish nationals joined lately Ansar al-Sharia fighters to fight along with them against Yemeni authorities.
The source reported that the three Swedish entered legally to Yemen as tourists, and then they joined the militants in its fighting against Yemeni government.
They arrived in Abyan province on Monday and they are now in al-Motheleth district of Jaar city, where fierce clashes took place between Yemeni government troops backed by tribesmen and al-Qaeda militants.
Yemeni authorities always announced the arrested of foreign personnel fighting along with al-Qaeda most of these fighters came to Yemen from Arabic countries such as Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Iraq and so on, and sometime came from Pakistan or Afghanistan. It is seldom Yemeni authorities captured people from the West.
Last week, Yemeni authorities in southern province of Hadhramout arrested at least 39 al-Qaeda militants, all of them are foreigners.
''The militants fled from Abyan province to Al-Mukalla city after fierce clashes took place in Abyan forcing them to leave their hideouts,'' a resident said.
According to security sources, the detainees, who were arrested in al-Mukalla by the Yemeni authorities, were intending to flee to Saudi Arabia.
In March Yemen and the US carried out airstrikes against AQAP hideouts in Abyan and Al-Baidha provinces, killing and wounding scores of civilians alongside alleged terrorists militants.
Yemen Interior Ministry said in a statement that 2 Pakistanis, 2 Saudi nationals, 1 Syrian and 1 Iraqi were among the dead in the raid.
The question here is: “are there foreign jihadists in Yemen—if so, where do they come from?”
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula depends very much on foreign fighters alongside Yemeni locals as it needs to maintain a global element to its movement. After AQAP was formed in January 2009 from a merger of the Saudi and Yemeni terror cells the organization realized it needed to internationalize its support system and launch a recruiting campaign. This is when the foreign jihadist movement was formed.
For the first time AQAP allowed Saudi militants to participate as active partners in the organization not only as normal members but also as leaders.
AQAP declared in 2009 that 2 Saudi militants were among its leaders, Said Ali al-Shihri became the deputy commander of the group and Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, the bomb maker.
The group in Yemen recruited foreign elements to carry out some targeted attacks against local government facilities, as well as recruiting foreign elements to pursue a similar policy abroad, such as the failed bombing of Northwest Flight 253 over Detroit, which took place on December 25, 2009 with Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian national being the main perpetrator.
In an interview with the American ambassador to Yemen, published last year, the official revealed that there were several jihadists in Yemen, alongside Yemeni fighters, most of whom came from Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Southern Asia.
Aish Awas, a Yemeni research in AQAP affairs added that some fighters were from America, Britain, Iraq, Sudan, and the United Emirates but in a far lesser numbers.
Moreover, Wikileaks site released last year a US diplomatic cable, which bore the names of some 6 women living in Australia as potential targets of an al-Qaeda plot to recruit women for terror attacks.
The women 4 Australians, 1 Briton and 1 Filipino are among 23 people based in Australia, alleged by Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) and the US State Department to be connected to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
The latest batch of confidential and secret cables written by the US embassy in Canberra in January last year, was sent to US intelligence agencies and 15 American diplomatic stations around the world.
Many of these foreign fighters traveled to countries like Yemen for terrorism training. AQAP opened a training camp in the district of Mudiyah in the southern province of Abyan. The camp highlights Yemen’s value to al Qaeda in waging its global terror campaign.
According to residents in Abyan province, that camp sheltered more than 800 local and foreign fighters. Yemenis, Saudis, and Somalis make up the vast majority of the fighters.