Monday, March 5, 2012

Al Qaida terror group in Yemen has many chiefs

Al Qaida operatives in Yemen target all nationalities
By Saeed Al Batati, Correspondent
March 6, 2012
Gulf News
Sana'a: Al Qaida in Yemen has many leaders. Nasser Al Wahishi, who escaped along with 22 other Al Qaida prisoners from the Central Security prison in Sana'a in 2006, became the leader of the organisation. Led by Al Wahishi, Al Qaida's Yemeni and Saudi wings merged in 2009 in a new group called Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
Other AQAP senior commanders include Abu Hurira Al Raymi, field commander and Saud Al Shehri.
"Jalal Belbiedi came on the scene when militants controlled Abyan province last year. He was appointed as the military ruler of AQAP."
AQAP has recently lost many commanders either in confrontation with the government or by American drones. Anwar Al Awlaqi, an American-born Muslim cleric, was assassinated by a drone in September 2011.
Tourist attacks
In the past, Al Qaida used to mainly carry out attacks on American and British citizens and facilities in Yemen.
Al Qaida operatives attacked the destroyer USS Cole in October 2000 in Aden. At least 17 US marines were killed. The terrorists also destroyed French tanker Limburg in 2002, which was anchored off Mukalla.
In the following years, Al Qaida not only targeted Americans and Britons, many other nationalities were included in its list. In 2007, eight Spanish tourists were killed in Mareb. A year later, two Belgians were shot dead in Hadramout. In 2009, a suicide bomber claimed the lives of four South Korean tourists in Shibam city.
Suicide bombers
When Al Qaida in Yemen managed to become stronger by recruiting foreign terrorists, AQAP began to groom suicide bombers to carry out attacks overseas. The Saudi government accused terrorists of being behind a failed suicide attack in 2009 that intended to kill Saudi Deputy Interior Minister Prince Mohammad Bin Nayef.
The AQAP was also blamed for recruiting the ‘underwear bomber' Omar Farouk Abdul Mutallab who allegedly tried to blow up a Detroit-bound US airliner in December 2009.
In May 2011, as the government was fighting for survival against a wave of protests, AQAP stormed the southern lawless province of Abyan and declared it an Islamic emirate to be the first known stronghold of Al Qaida.
In the past couple of years, AQAP has embarked on a new phase of fighting against the government.

Yemeni President Raises Emergency Alert in Military amid Deadly Attacks by al-Qaida

March 5, 2012  
Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi on Monday raised emergency alert level in the military to the maximum amid deadly attacks by al-Qaida in the country's southern provinces, security officials told Xinhua.
The move came one day after the death toll from fighting in the southern restive province of Abyan between al-Qaida militants and government troops rose to 130.
"President Hadi issued orders demanding all combat forces, including the air force, to fully prepare for confronting al-Qaida in the southern provinces of Abyan, Aden, Lahj and al-Bayda," the officials told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
"The order was made during a meeting in Sanaa on Monday between Hadi and generals of the Republican Guards, Special Forces, Central Security Forces and southern military brigades," they said, adding that "a plan for unleashing a massive offensive against the al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) was set to be carried out within the next few days."
"A brigade of the Republican Guards and three battalions of the Central Security Forces in Sanaa were ordered on Monday to move to Lahj, Aden and western borders of Abyan to confront al-Qaida militants," they said.
A provincial security official in Aden told Xinhua by phone that "two special units from the Republican Guards and Counterterrorism Force arrived on Monday evening in al-Alam area, in the eastern part of Aden and adjacent to Abyan, as they were airlifted earlier the day from Sanaa."
The development came a few hours after al-Qaida wing claimed responsibility for bombing an Antonov military cargo plane inside Al-Dailamy Air Force in the capital Sanaa, which was exploded one day ago.
Al-Qaida said bombing the plane came within 'Cutting the Tail' operations planned against the Yemeni government troops and said it captured 70 soldiers after it overrun a military base in the southern restive province of Abyan on Sunday.
Yemeni government officials said on Monday that the death toll from Sunday's battle against al-Qaida has risen to 130, and dozens of others were wounded.
The al-Qaida group said on Monday that despite the resistance of government forces and air raids during the Sunday battle, only two of its fighters were killed and 13 others wounded.
"We are sending a clear message to the Yemeni government which is to stop advancing to Zinjibar and Jaar (al-Qaida-held towns in Abyan), otherwise we have the capability to rain down you with flooding attacks in all your places," said a statement by the AQAP, obtained by Xinhua on Monday.
Elsewhere in Aden, a huge bomb blast hit the headquarters of a local military intelligence agency in the southern port city of Aden on Monday morning, but caused no casualties, a police officer told Xinhua, saying the attack bore the hallmarks of the AQAP, as several intelligence units had been attacked over the past few months.
Also in Aden, Police Chief of Aden's 6th precinct colonel Abdullah al-Muzi'e survived an assassination attempt by al-Qaida militants on Monday, but his bodyguard was killed, the Defence Ministry said in a statement posted on its website.
In the southeast province of al-Bayda, a provincial security official and witnesses told Xinhua that al-Qaida militants took over a security outpost outside the province's central city on Monday afternoon, where they killed a soldier and wounded five others.
Al-Qaida launched attacks a week after the Yemeni government gave the terrorist group a seven-day ultimatum to quit the captured cities in Abyan.
Meanwhile, Hadi announced on Monday that his government is determined to confront terrorism with full force, according to the state Saba news agency.
"We determined to confront terrorism with full force ... and whatever it takes, we will continue to hunt terrorists down to their final hideout," Saba quoted Hadi as saying when he met with a senior British official in Sanaa.
According to Saba, Hadi said the growing terrorism in Yemen is a result of the country's weak economy. "Economic problems are the most prominent reasons behind joining poor youths to al-Qaida network," Hadi said.
Hadi was elected Yemeni president to lead the government in the two-year interim period last month, after former president, the 33- year ruler, Ali Abdullah Saleh handed over power under a UN-backed power transfer deal brokered by neighboring oil-rich Arab Gulf countries, aiming to restore stability in the impoverished Arab state following a year of unrest.
Local observers said that Hadi had started to carry out reforms during his first two weeks to increase supplies of electricity, water, and stabilize the exchange rate of the country's currency.
However, suicide car bombs and violent attacks against the army have increased over the past two weeks. A deadly suicide bombing targeting two weeks ago the presidential palace in the southern province of Hadramout killed nearly 30 Republican Guards, at the same day when Hadi was sworn in at the parliament. The al-Qaida wing claimed responsibility for the attack in the following day.
The AQAP attacks underscore the challenges facing the new president who won support from major political forces, the United States and Saudi Arabia. He is tasked with restoring security and stability to Yemen and putting an end to growing influence of al- Qaida that threatens the daily oil shipping routes in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

US 'concerned' over Qaeda attacks in Yemen: Pentagon

March 5, 2012
WASHINGTON: The United States is "very concerned" about the latest assault by Al-Qaeda militants in Yemen but does not believe the government's survival is in jeopardy, a Pentagon spokesman said Monday.
In one of the single deadliest attacks against Yemeni forces, more than 100 government soldiers have been killed in fighting after suspected Al-Qaeda gunmen attacked military posts in Yemen's south on Sunday, medical officials in Yemen said.
"We view Yemen as a very important partner on counter-terrorism efforts and we're also very concerned about the clashes that have taken place there, to include AQAP (Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) advances in certain parts in the country," press secretary George Little told reporters, referring to Al-Qaeda's branch in the region.
It was vital to maintain military pressure on the Al-Qaeda network in Yemen, he said.
"AQAP is a group that has targeted the Yemeni government and Yemeni civilians for quite a long time and it's important we keep up the pressure on them," he said.
But Little said that the Yemeni government has long faced a challenge from the Al-Qaeda network and that its hold on power was not under serious threat.
"I think it's important to put this into some context. The Yemeni government has faced challenges in certain parts of the country for some time so I wouldn't necessarily read anything at this point into the stability of the Yemeni government," he said.
"We're going to continue to work with them," he said.
US officials are closely watching events in Yemen after Ali Abdullah Saleh stepped down last week after 33 years as president. The new president, Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, pledged to destroy the Al-Qaeda militant group in last month's inauguration speech.
Yemen's local Al-Qaeda branch, the self-proclaimed Partisans of Sharia (Islamic law), has exploited the decline in central government control that accompanied anti-Saleh protests that eventually forced him to cede power.
In recent years, the US Defense Department has provided hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of equipment and training designed to help Yemen's special forces counter Al-Qaeda, including aircraft, helicopters with night-vision cameras, sniper rifles, secure radios and bullet-proof jackets, according to the Congressional Research Service, a research arm of the US Congress. (AFP)

139 dead in Yemen fighting between al-Qaida and army; 55 troops taken prisons

139 dead in Yemen fighting, 55 troops held captive
By AHMED AL-HAJ | Associated Press |
March 5, 2012
Sneaking across the desert behind army lines, al-Qaida militants launched a surprise attack against military bases in south Yemen, killing 107 soldiers and capturing heavy weapons they later used to kill more troops, officials said on Monday.
The military officials said at least 32 of the militants were killed in Sunday's fighting in Abyan province and scores were wounded from both sides. Medical officials in the area confirmed the death toll figures. They said the poor services in local hospitals accounted for the death of many soldiers who suffered serious wounds but could have survived had they been given better medical care.
The high death toll among the troops is believed to be the highest on record in battles fought by the army against al-Qaida militants, who have been emboldened by the political turmoil roiling the impoverished Arab nation for more than a year.
The militants' attack appeared to be al-Qaida's response to a pledge by Yemen's newly inaugurated President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to fight the Yemeni branch of the terror network.
The military officials said the militants' surprise attack outside Abyan's provincial capital Zinjibar also led to the capture of 55 soldiers. The captives were paraded on the streets of Jaar, a nearby town that, like Zinjibar, has been under al-Qaida's control for about a year.
The officials spoke on Monday on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters.

AQAP Attack in Yemen.. Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
March 5, 2012
The United States strongly condemns yesterday’s AQAP attack against Yemeni military forces that brutally killed dozens of soldiers and wounded scores more. We extend our deepest condolences to the friends and loved ones of the victims of this heinous attack, which illustrates AQAP’s complete disregard for human life. The United States will continue to support President Hadi and the Yemeni people as they work to realize their aspirations for a brighter and more prosperous future.