Government not wise in dealing with Qaeda elements [Archives:2007/1091/Opinion]

October 4 2007

By: Ezzat Mustafa
Regarding measures of Yemeni security for hunting Qaeda elements in the country, there are two major possibilities, the first of which is that the government forces are unable to control their fists and fill the gaps between their fingers where mercurial people like the Qaeda elements pass through. The other possibility is that the authorities may release them voluntarily but retain them twisted to their fingers in order to recall them whenever they want.

Last August, Qasim Al-Raimi, who is nicknamed Abu Hurreira Al-Sana'ani, managed to escape death at the hands of Yemeni Counterterrorism Forces that besieged him with infantry troops backed by fighter jets. Al-Raimi was accompanied by four of his fellows in an area lying between Al-Jawf and Marib governorates. The five AlQaeda suspects confronted extensively trained and specialized troops, who caught four of them except for Al-Raimi who escaped mysteriously.

A few days later, the authorities said that they arrested a number of the Qaeda elements involved in the Marib blast that targeted the Spanish tourists. The official sources identified neither the exact number of those arrested nor their names, however, informed sources in Modya district in Abyan confirmed that Al-Qaeda suspects fled after they learned that the security forces were raiding the houses where they had been hiding. The security personnel arrested only a few locals of those inhabiting in the raided area. After the operation, the government didn't release any comment on the operation that ended at this point while the escapees were hiding in nearby mountains.

Al-Wasat weekly newspaper recently reported that six Qaeda elements escaped from a political security jail in February 2006 to be then harbored and protected by Sheikhs of Waela Tribe in Sa'ada governorate. According to the newspaper, President Ali Abdullah Saleh gave the tribal sheikhs two options: whether to hand over the six fugitives to the government or a military operation will be launched on the area in order to capture the wanted suspects.

Except for Hamza Al-Quaiti, Mohammed Sa'eed Al-Umda, Ibrahim Howaidi and Hezam Mujalli, the released Qaeda members are the most dangerous ones. Qasim Al-Raimi (Abu Horeirah Al-Sana'ani) is considered the Spokesman the Qaeda Organization in Yemen, as well as the top suspect charged with plotting the Marib car bombing that killed eight Spaniards.

According to Al-Raimi's statements, he is always in direct contact with Naser Al-Wahaishi (Abu Baseer), who appointed himself a leader for the organization in Yemen. Although this man is dangerous, the most hostile from among the three people is Jamal Al-Badwi about whom we heard nothing since he fled one year and seven months ago. He is a mercurial man since he machinated the jailbreak of the Qaeda elements who tunneled out of the Aden political security prison on April 11, 2003, but later on the security authorities managed to recapture him. He was then thrown in the Sana'a political security prison, which is surrounded by heightened security measures and has an excessive presence of personnel in the compass. It has been very clear that Al-Badwi was the main plotter of the Qaeda fugitives who fled the most famous intelligence detention in the capital city of Sana'a last year like he did before in Aden.

Al-Badwi is the top suspect in the two biggest terrorist operations, which Al-Qaeda carried out in Yemen, the first of which is the U.S. Cole Destroyer Bombing off Aden shore in October 2000 and the second is bombing the French Supertanker Limburg in Al-Dhuba Port in Hadramout in 2002.

The man was sentenced to fifteen years in prison after the sentence was reduced from death in an appeal tribunal in 2005. He is also one of the top wanted terrorists by the U.S. Administration that filed against him as many as fifty charges before a federal court in New York. In addition, the U.S. Administration declared a $5 million prize for anyone who gives information that leads to the capture of Al-Badwi.

The Yemeni government did not comment on the story, which Al-Wasat Weekly published and if it is correct and authentic, Jamal Al-Badwi will be the seventh man having no relation with the six people, who is harbored and protected by Waela tribes. The government hasn't yet launched an offensive against the area to arrest the wanted terrorists while the newspaper reported that tribal leaders of the area agreed to refrain from handing over the suspects to the government.

Furthermore, the Yemeni newspaper didn't mention how long the suspects have been harbored by sheikhs, nor did it report that these suspects are part of the group that was besieged in Abyan but managed to escape.

There are several matters that raise numerous questions regarding the Qaeda Organization in Yemen and the fact that some of them resorted to settle in Abyan governorate, the stronghold of Aden-Abyan Islamic Army, may help lead to a better understanding between the two terrorist organizations even after Aden-Abyan Islamic Army quit Al-Qaeda and chose Abyan as an area for plotting its operations.

Not all the Qaeda fugitives are hiding in the same place. The Yemeni government should deal wisely with their capture, particularly after the Qaeda Network blamed the government for deliberately liquidating fugitives and not arresting them. The network disclosed that the murder of Fawaz Al-Rabie and Mohammed Al-Dailami in a single operation in early October 2006 is evidence of the authorities' excessive use of force against the Qaeda elements. It added that it was possible for the government to arrest them and not to kill them. Similarly, the Qaeda member Yasser Al-Homaiqani, was murdered later and this forced the organization to escalate its terrorist operations in Yemen, which culminated with the murder of Spanish tourists.

The jailbreaks perpetuated by Qaeda elements is not a strange thing, as the organization has been training its elements since the early 1980s on how to make tunnels and escape jails. It has been disclosed earlier that the plotter of September 11 Terrorist Attacks on the U.S. is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was trained in Japan for three months in 1987 on how to make tunnels. After a while, he left Japan for Afghanistan carrying with him 150 instruments that were used for the same purpose. Now, Mohammed seems to be unable to flee while being detained by the U.S. Authorities that received him from the Pakistani authorities following his capture in March 2003. On the contrary, Al-Qaeda elements in Yemen managed to escape twice from two detentions surrounded by heightened security.