Friday, April 27, 2012

American Embassy in Sana'a denies Mareb Press allegations

By Fatik al-Rodaini
SANA'A, April 27, 2012- In a statement posted on the Internet the American embassy in Yemen denied on Friday night the allegations of Mareb Press website which accused the US embassy personnel of raping Yemeni girls.
''The Embassy takes these types of allegations against its staff extremely seriously and categorically and emphatically denies these outrageous claims,'' the statement said.
The embassy criticized the Mareb Press website, which belongs to Islah party, Yemen’s Islamic faction and the main block of the Opposition led by al-Ahmars' family.
''The Embassy would like to express its outrage with the editors and managers of the Mareb Press for printing such spurious allegations without proof and without any attempt to confirm the allegations with the Embassy,'' it read.
The American Embassy demanded the website reaction of the article, saying the slanderous journalism is deplorable, and the Embassy demands the immediate retraction of the article.
''The Embassy fully expects that in future situations Mareb Press will abide by more professional journalism standards,'' the statement added.

7 Al-Qaeda militants killed and wounded including senior leader in Yemen's Abyan… updated

By Fatik al-Rodaini
SANA'A, April 27, 2012- At least 7 fighters linked to al-Qaeda reportedly were killed and wounded on Friday evening during an ambush conducted by tribesmen in the Yemeni city of Abyan, where continued clashes between Yemeni troops and al-Qaeda militants.
According to tribal sources, the militants were ambushed in al-Arkob district north the city of Shakera in the southern province of Abyan.
''Tribesmen ambushed a vehicle believed to be carrying al-Qaeda militants on road linking Shakera and Um Aen cities, killing and wounding 7 militants,'' the tribal sources reported.
Moreover, a senior al-Qaeda militant has died on Friday due to injuries sustained in an airstrike attacked on militant hideouts last Tuesday in Yemen's southern province of Abyan.
''Mazen Abdullah al-Saed, known as Abu Salem has died in Um Sora district of Abyan province,'' a resident stated.
Meanwhile, close sources said that al-Qaeda militants returned back to positions in Yasof district of Abyan province, where fierce battles took place between Yemeni forces backed by tribesmen and al-Qaeda militants three weeks ago.
Local news websites in southern province of Hadhramout reported that Yemeni authorities arrested during the last two days 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.

President Saleh's nephew quits his post as the head of Presidential Guard

By Fatik al-Rodaini
SANA'A, April 27, 2012- General Tareq Mohammed Abdullah Saleh, the head of the Presidential Guard, handed on Friday his duties over to his successor.
The nephew of the former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, is reported to have agreed to stand down as head of the Presidential Guard.
General Tareq, who has refused to quit for weeks, left his post, handing over his duties to the newely appointed General Saleh Mohammed Abdu rabo al-Jeamelani.
Former President Saleh's nephew was sacked on 6 April along with nearly 20 other senior officers as part of a restructuring of the armed forces.
On Tuesday, General Mohammed Saleh al-Ahmar, the head of the country's air force, a half-brother of the former president, agreed to step down in the presence of the United Nations envoy to Yemen, Jamal Benomar.
Gen Ahmar demanded the dismissal of the country's defense minister and other senior officials.
On April 6, President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi issued a decree in which he sacked Ahmar, a half-brother of deposed president Ali Abdullah Saleh, as well as the ex-leader’s nephew General Tariq Mohammed Abdullah Saleh, who heads the presidential guard.
Both generals had refused to quit, and Ahmar’s loyalists even surrounded Sanaa’s airport and threatened to shoot down planes, forcing its closure for one day.
The airport was reopened after international and regional powers voiced support for Hadi, who must restructure the army based on a Gulf-brokered deal that Yemen’s political parties have agreed upon.

After Osama bin Laden, al Qaida still a many-headed threat

By Matthew Schofield - McClatchy Newspapers
April 27, 2012
WASHINGTON -- A year ago, U.S. Navy SEALs slipped into a heavily fortified compound in Pakistan and killed the face of international terrorism. There is a growing fear, however, that Osama bin Laden’s death didn’t even seriously wound the international terror threat.
This past decade — as al Qaida’s core leadership was hunted, scattered and disrupted in Afghanistan and Pakistan — a number of sympathetic groups and individuals sprang up around the world. In the year since his death, their importance in this shadow world has grown.
Richard Fadden, the head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, said that this many-headed beast is expected to strike more and more frequently in coming years, and he cited the difficulty of identifying “lone wolf” terrorists — small groups or individuals who self-radicalize.
“It’s not easy,” he told a Canadian Senate committee this week. “These individuals seem to be a mix of terrorists and people who simply have very big personal problems.”
An unexpected example emerged in a Norwegian courtroom last week: Anders Behring Breivik, the anti-immigration nationalist on trial for the murders of 77 people, admitted that he closely studied al Qaida’s methods. He called the group “the most successful revolutionary movement in the world.”
Anti-terror experts see the al Qaida influence extending even as the core of the organization is thought to be down to an estimated 100 or fewer followers in its traditional home of Afghanistan and Pakistan’s ungoverned tribal areas. A Pentagon spokesman said that even that estimate could overshoot the total number who sleep in Afghanistan on any given night, which might be no more than a few dozen.
Throughout the world, offshoot groups have adopted the al Qaida label. They’ve pledged cooperation, shared money and weapons, often trained together or advised each other on al Qaida methods, and shared both strict Islamist roots and a fervent hatred for the West.
Rather than waiting for orders from above, these groups act first, then give credit to the mother organization, which in turn often offers praise that bolsters the affiliate group’s standing. U.S. and international forces have battled al Qaida in Iraq for years, and AQI is thought to be trying to make inroads in the uprising against President Bashir Assad in neighboring Syria.
Experts said that five other such groups are considered the most dangerous, or the most capable: al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, based in Yemen; al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, based in Algeria and Mali; Lashkar-e-Taiba of Pakistan; al Shabaab of Somalia; and Boko Haram, a relatively young Nigerian militancy.
They organize on the Web and use social media to communicate and recruit. They’re in contact with each other, offering advice, money, weapons and planning. They’ve been involved in attempted attacks in New York’s Times Square and aboard a Detroit-bound jetliner, as well as assaults in London, Mumbai and Fort Hood, Texas.
The groups appear to have direct ties to al Qaida’s central organization. One AQAP founder was close to bin Laden. President Barack Obama called them “al Qaida’s most active operational affiliate.”
As such, they are hunted. A week ago, an airstrike in northeastern Yemen killed Mohammed Saeed al-Umda, considered an original member and leader of AQAP. The source of the strike was unclear, but U.S. and Yemeni forces cooperate closely on counterterrorism.
 “What we’re facing today is a much, much larger global threat,” said Seth Jones, an expert at the RAND Corp. who’s advised the Pentagon on Afghanistan and Pakistan. “It’s a more dispersed threat. The threat is decentralizing to a broad network of groups. Al Qaida inspires, but doesn’t control, and they work with locals.”
The meaning of that threat: Massive attacks such as those on 9/11 are unlikely to be repeated. But expect smaller-scale attacks — the “strategy of a thousand cuts,” it was called in AQAP’s slick online propaganda magazine Inspire.
A deadly example came in 2009 with the rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, where Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, allegedly radicalized online by AQAP, is accused of shooting dead 13 soldiers. His trial is scheduled to begin in August.
Experts note that these groups have largely localized agendas. Generally, they’re looking to impose Islamic Sharia law and, if not overthrow a local government, carve out a space in which to operate in their home country.
But the al Qaida model encourages ideological hybridization: think locally, act globally
As Jones pointed out, attacks that shake the United States can actually help further local goals. An attack that causes the United States to look inward can allow a terror group more room to operate elsewhere. And, problematically, even their failed attacks can turn out to be seen as successes: The Christmas day 2009 attempt to blow up a commercial jet as it neared Detroit by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, and Faisal Shahzad’s alleged 2010 attempt to set off a car bomb in Times Square, both attracted international attention.
Al Shabaab, which began in 2006 as the militant wing of a group of Islamist courts that briefly ruled southern Somalia, has also shown global ambitions — recruiting dozens of youths, mostly from Minnesota but also from Alabama, California and Ohio, to fight an insurgency against Somalia’s weak government and an African Union peacekeeping force.
But Tom Sanderson, co-director of the Transnational Threat Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, says that one of the most puzzling questions for those who track international terrorism is why al Shabaab — so far — hasn’t lashed out at the United States.
 “The Shabaab network inside the United States is tailor-made for what al Qaida wants to accomplish in this country,” Sanderson said. “They have ties to al Qaida, they have the rhetoric. It’s not a very big stretch to turn that into attacks in the United States.”
To date, a Shabaab’s efforts have mainly focused in Somalia. In Pakistan, Lashkar-e-Taiba — the Army of the Pure — has been around since 1993 and has been focused for most of that time on India. Its biggest attack _—a November 2008 assault on a hotel and other sites frequented by tourists in India’s commercial capital Mumbai — killed 164 people, including six Americans.
The group’s strongly anti-Western rhetoric and alleged ties to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate spy agency have fueled fears that it’ll soon look to strike farther afield — perhaps to the United Kingdom, where Sanderson noted there is “a ready-made diaspora, including youths who’ve become disenchanted with the West.”
Similar reasoning applies to al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, which is thought to want to strike outside Africa and particularly in France, the former colonial master in the region. The Algeria-based group has been using money from kidnapping and smuggling to buy up weapons from the caches of former Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi. Military and counterterrorism experts believe AQIM played a role in the success of the Tuareg rebellion in Mali, which touched off a military coup in the West African nation this spring.
The group has also thought to have gotten some help from Nigeria’s Boko Haram, a worrying addition to international terrorism whose 115 attacks killed 550 people in Nigeria last year alone. The name — which translates to “Western education is forbidden” — tells of the group’s disdain for the West. Experts fear that its participation in Mali shows it’s willing to operate outside its national borders.
 “What is happening in Mali started as a nationalist, separatist movement, but has it been co-opted by a collection of Islamists?” said J. Peter Pham, director of the Atlantic Council’s Michael S. Ansari Africa Center. “It’s a propaganda victory, certainly. But more than that, consider that Boko Haram’s activities have forced Nigeria into inactivity in its own neighborhood. That’s an ally we can no longer call on. A local group, now pushing outside its traditional borders, has already hurt our national interests.”
Experts agree that the main emerging danger is these localized groups expanding their ambitions outside their homelands. One year after bin Laden, international terror may no longer have a face, but its teeth are still sharp.

Pakistan deports bin Laden family to Saudi Arabia

April 27, 2012
ISLAMABAD —Pakistani authorities deported Osama bin Laden's three widows and his children to Saudi Arabia early Friday, less than a week before the first anniversary of the unilateral American raid that killed the al-Qaida leader in his hideout in a military town.
The departure of the family closed another chapter in an affair that cemented Pakistan's reputation as a hub of Islamist extremism and cast doubt on its trustworthiness as a Western ally.
Once outside Pakistan, the wives may be willing to share any information they have about how bin Laden managed to evade capture in the country for nearly a decade following the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks in the United States.
The U.S. commandos took bin Laden's body, which they later buried at sea, but left his family behind. His wives and children were detained by Pakistani authorities immediately after the pre-dawn raid on May 2, 2011.
Two of the widows are from Saudi Arabia, and the third is from Yemen.
They were interrogated by Pakistani intelligence agents and eventually charged last month with illegally entering and living in the country. The three wives and two adult daughters were convicted and sentenced to 45 days in prison. Their prison term, which was spent at a well-guarded house in Islamabad, ended earlier this month.
Soon after midnight Thursday, a van took the women and children from the house in the center of the capital, Islamabad, en route to the airport. Officials covered the vehicle with sheets to prevent photographers from taking their pictures.
A statement from the Interior Ministry said 14 members of the bin Laden family had been deported to the "country of their choice, Saudi Arabia." Few details have been released about the family, but officials have said bin Laden had three wives, at least eight children and some grandchildren living with him in the house when it was raided by the Americans.
The Pakistani government has denied knowing the terrorist leader's whereabouts. U.S. officials say they have no evidence senior Pakistani officials knew bin Laden was in Abbottabad, but questions remain. A Pakistani government commission formed to investigate how bin Laden lived in the country and the circumstances of the American raid has yet to publish its report, but it is widely expected to be a whitewash.
Soon after the raid, American investigators were given access to the wives in Pakistani custody, but one Pakistani intelligence officer has said the women refused to answer their questions.
The Yemeni wife, Amal Ahmed Abdel-Fatah al-Sada, told Pakistani police that the al-Qaida chief lived in five houses while on the run in Pakistan for nine years and fathered four children, two of whom were born in Pakistani government hospitals.
Saudi officials have given little information about the family and the plan to deport them. The country stripped bin Laden of his citizenship in 1994 because of his verbal attacks against the Saudi royal family, and there have been questions about whether the country would accept the women.
Pakistani officials were outraged that the U.S. did not tell them about the operation against bin Laden until after it happened — a decision American officials explained by saying they were worried the information would be leaked. Relations between the two countries plummeted after the raid and have yet to recover.
Besides facing difficult questions about how bin Laden was able to hide in the country for so long, Pakistan's army faced unusual domestic criticism because it was unable to stop the American raid from taking place, or even detect it while it was under way.
Last November, U.S. airstrikes inadvertently killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on the Afghan border, dealing another blow to ties still strained from the bin Laden raid. Washington, which needs Pakistani cooperation against al-Qaida and in trying to end the Afghan war, is trying to rebuild the relationship.