Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Swiss hostage healthy in Yemen

March 20, 2012
A Yemeni tribal leader claims a Swiss language teacher taken hostage last week from her home in the port city of Hodeida is safe and healthy.
Ali Abdallah Zebara told Agence France Presse that he was contacted by the Swiss embassy, and expects written authorization from Yemeni officials to begin negotiating for the woman’s release.
Zebara previous helped negotiate the release of three French humanitarian workers last November.
Initial reports indicated tribesmen wanted to trade the Swiss teacher for two tribal members held in jail.
Yesterday Chinese news agency Xinhua quoted a local tribal leader claiming the kidnappers wanted $1.2 million ransom.
Swiss officials would not confirm that report.

Yemen army kills five Qaeda suspects in south

March 20, 2012
ADEN: The Yemeni army shelled suspected hideouts of Al-Qaeda militants in the southern province of Abyan, killing five of them, a local official told AFP on Tuesday.
"Five Al-Qaeda fighters were killed and several others wounded in the late Monday bombardment of Al-Quz," on the outskirts of the provincial capital Zinjibar, which the militants overran last May, the official said.
Troops and militants traded machinegun fire early on Tuesday on the city's northern and eastern outskirts, said the official from nearby Jaar -- another militant stronghold.
Al-Qaeda militants have exploited the weakening of the central government in Sanaa in the face of 10 months of deadly protests last year to strengthen their presence, especially in the south and east.

Hundreds of Yemenis march to demand justice for slain American teacher

Slain American teacher honored in Yemeni city
By AHMED AL-HAJ | Associated Press
Hundreds of youth activists and other protesters marched Tuesday through a central Yemeni city demanding justice for an American teacher who was gunned down by unknown assailants this week.
Joel Shrum, 29, had been living in the central city of Taiz with his wife and two sons, where he was learning Arabic and teaching English at a language institute.
Shrum, a native of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, moved to Yemen in 2009. He was killed Sunday in his car when the assailants, dressed in military uniforms, sped up next to him on a motorcycle and opened fire.
The slain teacher had worked at the International Training and Development Centre. The center, established in Yemen in the 1970s, is one of the oldest foreign language institutes in the Arab world's most impoverished country.
A text message that circulated by mobile phone in Yemen after his killing said that "holy warriors" had killed "a senior missionary" in Taiz, the country's second most populated city after its capital Sanaa. It was impossible to confirm the claim of responsibility.
His parents say he went there in 2009 to learn Arabic, not to proselytize, and became passionate about teaching business skills to Yemenis.
One of Shrum's colleagues at the language center, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal, said Shrum used to encourage Yemenis to stay true to their Islamic faith and did not try to convert people to Christianity.
He said Shrum not only taught Yemenis English, but would often buy students books and assist them in learning computer skills.
Protesters on Tuesday carried photos of Shrum as they marched through the city's streets, chanting, "Yemen is not a place for terrorism. We love you Joel!"
Activist Radwan al-Qadri says several lawyers and protesters met with the Taiz police chief to demand an investigation. No one has yet been apprehended for the deadly attack.
A number of residents said they were holding a sit-in outside the police chief's headquarters until arrests are made in connection with the murder.
"Joel served the city of Taiz and was a good friend who came from the United States," al-Qadri said, adding that the American teacher spoke good Arabic and "was a lovable person who respected humanity and was himself respected."
Al-Qaida and other militant groups are active in Yemen, located on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. Yemen has suffered a breakdown of security during a yearlong uprising that eventually led to the ouster of the country's president last month after 33 years of authoritarian rule.
Since he stepped down last month, the former leader, Ali Abdullah Saleh, has been accused by the opposition of meddling in the country's affairs. They also accuse his loyalists in top security positions of allowing and at times possibly encouraging militant attacks as a means of eroding the capabilities of the new national unity government.

Loyalists of Yemen's Saleh quit cabinet meeting

March 20, 2012
Presidential source says ministers loyal to Saleh left meeting to cause failure of consensus government.
SANAA - Yemeni ministers loyal to veteran strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh, who quit as president last month under a hard-won transition deal, walked out of a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, sources close to Saleh's successor said.
The move came hours after a senior official said Saleh had threatened to pull his supporters out of the consensus cabinet formed with the parliamentary opposition in December as another key part of the transfer of power deal.
All but two ministers of Saleh's General People's Congress (GPC) party left the meeting as part of "attempts by Saleh to cause the failure of the consensus government," said one source close to President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi.
Hadi, elected as Saleh's successor last month in a vote in which his was the only name on the ballot paper, is scrambling to persuade his predecessor not to make good on his threat to bring down the government, a top official said on condition of anonymity.
Hadi has appointed a committee of leading politicians in a bid "to convince Saleh to abandon his threats," the official said.
If the commission fails to secure a change of heart, "the president will have to form a new government of national unity," the official added.
But Saleh showed little sign of backing down and telephoned Prime Minister Mohammed Basindawa personally and "threatened" his government, a cabinet source said.
The 34-member unity cabinet, appointed in December in accordance with the transition deal, has equal numbers of ministers from the GPC and the parliamentary opposition's Common Forum alliance.
Under the terms of the Gulf-brokered agreement which he signed with the opposition in November, Saleh gave up the Sanaa presidency that he had held since 1978.
But he retains the leadership of the GPC and aides have not ruled out his standing in a contested presidential election due to be held alongside new parliamentary polls in 2014.
Over the past week, the pro-Saleh press has stepped up its criticism of Basindawa's government and in a speech last week the former president accused it of being "weak" and of "not understanding anything about politics."
The Gulf-brokered transition deal brought an end to 10 months of deadly violence between Saleh opponents and loyalist troops, that ended up splitting the security forces and fanning an insurgency in the south and east by militants loyal to Al-Qaeda.
Since taking over as president, Hadi has struggled to grapple with the huge challenges facing the Arab world's poorest nation, which also include a Shiite rebellion in the far north and a growing campaign for secession in the formerly independent south.

Osama’s kin moves court for sister’s custody

March 20, 2012
ISLAMABAD: Slain al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden’s brother-in-law has filed a petition in the civil judge Islamabad’s court for the custody of his sister Amal Asada and her children. Zakariya has filed the petition through his counsel.
 According to the petition, the Pakistani officials indicated that he could take his sister and her children to Yemen.
The petition also read that a case had been registered against them. Zakariya requested the court to permit him to meet his sister.
The court has reserved its judgement in this regard. On the other hand, according to a report issued by an intelligence agency, Osama bin Laden’s three wives, Khaira, Saham and Amal, and two daughters, Mariyam and Samia, entered Pakistan illegally.
 The report also read Osama’s wives and daughters also gave birth to children in Pakistan and hid their identity when admitted to a hospital.
The report read further Osama’s family was not cooperating with the investigation officials.