Home > AL Qaeda, SAU, USA, YEM > Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (Part 3/3)

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (Part 3/3)

March 26, 2010

The following report is reprinted with permission from Yemen Times.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula  (Part 3/3)
©  Abdel Ilah Haidar Shae’e
Extracts from a paper delivered at the Afif Cultural Foundation
Source:  Yemen Times
Publication date:  March 25, 2010

Part 1
Part 2

After Yemen and Saudi Arabia’s success in eliminating Al-Qaeda as a local organization in 2003 and 2006, this organization is now back with cross-border operations reaching the U.S., and Yemen as its new base for its regional leadership.

The last operation by Omar Farouk who tried to attack Detroit Airport has changed the concept of global security. This attack, adopted by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, redrew security systems in the west and the world, and moved Al-Qaeda in Yemen to the forefront of world news and the major future threats to the world.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula announced its standpoint based on the battle with the U.S. and the West and applies a rule announced by Osama Bin Laden in 2004. In a speech addressed to Al-Zarqawi he stated, “The fight should be focused on the Americans, and if the others avoid aggression then the fighting should not involve them, and for those who cooperate with Americans, then hit them no matter who they are.”

Al-Qaeda’s ideology towards both Muslim and secular factions is strict and radical, however, Al-Qaeda defers between Sunni Muslims and categorizes them based on how the system perceives and deals with them. Sunni Muslims are categorized into three different groups, the first are those followers of U.S. and the West and those are warned and advised by the system. The second group are the followers of the system that works according to the U.S. and the West and this group is accused of hypocrisy and should be punished by the system. Finally, the third group doesn’t follow the West and yet doesn’t declare loyalty to Al-Qaeda. The System asks this group to challenge the situation and reveal its standpoints.

Then there are the type of Muslims which Western and American studies call the ‘new Muslims’, those who believe in peace and democracy, those who accept to live in harmony with the U.S. and the West, building strong allies with nationalism and secularism forces and with other religious currents such as the Shiites. The place where those kinds of Muslims exist is a place Al-Qaeda finds hard to access and activate. Al-Qaeda is more deeply rooted and has a wider spread in places where “Islam is simpler and more of a Bedouin primitive nature.” In there, Al-Qaeda’s ideology finds an accessible pathway.

This is regarding the Sunni factions. As for the Shiites, Al-Qaeda believes that those are no longer Zaidis and they have turned into opposition Shiites, similar to those found in Iraq and although Al-Qaeda haven’t yet entered into direct armed combat with them, they keep warning of their danger to Yemen. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula considers the war in Sa’ada between the Shiites and the regime as a malicious seedling planted by the regime, causing misery for the Yemeni people. Al-Qaeda also believes that the Shiites sect have territorial goals in Yemen and is regionally supported by Iran. This is based on an audio recording issued by the Epics Foundation, recited by Mohammad Al-Rashed, one of the security ‘wanted’ on the Saudi list.

Al-Qaeda perceives the secular and nationalistic parties as victims of misguided theories; it calls on them to repent and draws their attention to the fight against Western imperialism and the U.S. and that Al-Qaeda is the only one who’s leading all these battles. It is unfortunate for Al-Qaeda that the groupings and the different parties in the countries do not form an alliance of any kind with them. The southern rebellion considers Al-Qaeda an extremist organization and fights against it, along with the U.S. and the West, to purge the south from it and see it as important to cooperate on an international level to remove such a system.

The opposition political parties consider Al-Qaeda a creation by the regime and a political card used to extend their time in charge. It is used as an escape from the different Yemeni crises. The Houthis believe that Al- Qaeda is a terrorist movement, collaborating with the regime in its war against them in Sa’ada. Ali Salem Al-Abyadh declares that he doesn’t mind getting support from Iran. Tareq Al-Fadhli, one of the field leaders, praises Abdel Malik Al-Houthi who reciprocates by praising him as well in the same statement where he denies any connection with Al-Qaeda, describing it as a terrorist movement. Al-Houthi also welcomes the National Salvation Document issued by the grouping of the joint committee, and he agrees on all of its terms that cover most of the just demands and requirements.

Regional and international overlaps

NATO’s strategic vision for Yemen, penned by the U.S. leadership, is consistent with that of Al-Qaeda. The west considers Yemen as the safe ally for NATO, who has the vital role in securing energy sources in the region as well as the trade routes and military fleets. Al-Qaeda, on the other hand, considers Yemen the land of providence and the starting point of its army, which has defeated the coalition in its most important battles nowadays.

The spread of Al-Qaeda in rich locations is a direct threat to the best interests of the U.S. and the West. Al-Qaeda exists in the northern and southern areas, in Marib, Shabwa and Hadramout, and in the southern and western coastal areas, in Abyan, Aden and Al- Hodeida, areas of which straits and shipping lanes are considered the most important international ones. This explains why Al-Qaeda is a direct threat for the sources of wealth invested there by the U.S. and West companies on land and a threat for the passage of different trade lines and military fleets through the sea. This is also why the West is so worried about Al-Qaeda’s presence in the Arabian Peninsula and is ready to go through a decisive battle with Al-Qaeda in Yemen, since it is located near the concentration of forces, its interests in the Gulf states and safe seaways.

Yemen is currently part of a regional wave allied with the West to counter Al-Qaeda in the area. Al-Qaeda replies back with a similar wave of the Somali youth movement that has announced its willingness to send fighters across the sea which will make Yemen an open and a central battle field between the International Jihad Movement on one side and the international coalition for fighting the so called ‘terror’. According to the thoughts of Al-Qaeda, expected callings will be announced by the International Qaeda Leadership, to recruit in Yemen, taking advantage of the West’s call for convening an international conference to fight so-called terrorism in Yemen.

The Jihadists Somali Youth Movement comes from an ideological religious standpoint of the International Jihadists Movement, which is supporting their ‘brothers’ and the willingness of enrolling in the Yemeni Army, which Somali youth considers one of the best. This, however, doesn’t mean that Yemen needs more fighters. They have many well trained military men, some of which have been sent out to Somalia, such as Abu Asem Al-Tabooki from Bihan, in the governorate of Shabwa, southern Yemen. Abu Asem was on the list of the 23 most wanted who escaped from the Sanani prison in February 2006, together with some other Al- Qaeda leaders. Al-Tabooki was killed in an air raid on an Al-Qaeda camp in Somalia in late 2007.

Al-Qaeda presumes that Saudi Arabia’s role is a major one. The military officer of Al- Qaeda says: Deputy Minister of the Interior, Prince Mohammad Bin Nayef, manages the Yemeni Ministry of the Interior and that his authority there is wider than that in the ministry of his father. Al-Qaeda has announced that a spy network of Prince Mohammad Bin Nayef in the southern and eastern areas was detected and that one of its rules is to follow Al-Qaeda members and locate their positions. In February 2009, Saudi Arabia announced a list of the 85 wanted. The Yemenis on the list include: “Amir Al-Qaeda” Al-Wahaishi, and military officer Al-Reemi. Saudi Arabia has declared its support for Yemen in its war against terror and King Abdullah has said that the security of Yemen is the security of the Saudi kingdom and the whole region.

Al-Qaeda has failed several times in several breakthrough attempts in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; the first attempt was aborted after the announcement of the integration of the two groups discovered a cell in March 2009, by the Saudi Yemeni border in Najran. The cell was made up of 11 people, all of whom were arrested. A stockpile of weapons was also discovered there. The second attempt was when Yousef Al-Shahri and Raed Al-Harbi tried to penetrate the Jazan area on October 13, 2009. Both of them were killed because they too were on the wanted list.

Despite Al-Qaeda’s success in penetrating the security system during the assassination attempt of Prince Mohammad Bin Nayef in late August 2009, the Yemeni Saudi cooperation grew by the establishment of a media centre in October 2009, to make a stand against Al-Qaeda’s media in the Arabian Peninsula. This came after the latter issued a number of films about the Saudi Royal Family. Saudi Arabia has recently supported the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s invitation for an international conference, in order to address what he described as the next global threat from Yemen.

Future prospects

The future of Yemen is outlined by various armed factions which are: the southern movement, the Shiite armed movement, the Houthis and the Sunni armed movement, Al-Qaeda along with international and regional interferences, a political crisis between the ruling system different parts: the authority and the opposition, and also the poor economy of the country that is rendered unable to deliver its different promises. All the international interference, with their wars on Al-Qaeda, depend on the fact that all those who are not with us are against us. Consequently, this polarizes the Yemeni community’s attitudes towards the U.S. and the West, or towards Al-Qaeda.

In its battle against Al-Qaeda, the West doesn’t depend on the government authorities and securities; alternatively, it employs factions, civic organizations and tribal leaders in an effort to dismantle the public incubator for Al-Qaeda.

The tribal system in Yemen is prepared to go through modifying its plans and councils similar to what has happened in Iraq, but only if Al-Qaeda becomes as powerful in Yemen as it is right now in Iraq, and if the U.S. and its Western allies and locals are not able to defeat it.

The war with Al-Qaeda has started and will, in its own way, take on broader and deeper perspectives, where all politically peaceful sections of the community plus the tribal and governmental bodies will have no choice but to become involved.


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