The seventh attack targets the capital of “money and business”Al-Qaeda and an unknown Islamic group claim responsibility for Sayoun suicide bombing [Archives:2008/1176/Front Page]

July 28 2008

Aqeel Al-Hilali
For the Yemen Times

SAYOUN, July 25)Both a previously-unknown Islamic group and Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that targeted a security camp in Hadramout governorate's Sayoun city last Friday. The government accused Al-Qaeda of carrying out the attack, which resulted in the death of the suicide bomber and one security soldier leaving 18 others injured, three of whom are in critical condition.

Among the injured are 11 security soldiers and seven women who lived near the camp who were taken to Sayoun city hospital. The blast also caused damage to some parts of the security camp and other nearby houses, according to a security source.

The organization calling itself the Yemeni branch of Islamic Jihad declared responsibility for the Hadramout attack in a press release published on the internet. “We congratulate the attacker on [attaining] paradise,” said the statement, which said the operation comes within the context of “defending Islam against rallies and celebrations that pollute the minds of our sons and daughters through singing, impudence and mixing of the two sexes.”

Al-Mukalla, the capital of Hadramout, holds an annual tourist celebration that began this year on July 17. The event includes artstic, cultural and sporting activities as well as folk dance and traditional, popular meals.

The Yemeni branch of Islamic Jihad said in their press release that the attack targets “all those who think of touching the Islamic religion,” and warned that this new suicide bombing is just the beginning. The statement said that the attacks “will extend to every rotten part in Yemen,” before demanding the Yemeni government to “pay US $5 million if it wants these attacks be stopped in the country.”

In a statement to the Ministry of Defense-affiliated website, the Governor of Hadramout, Salem Al-Khanbashi, accused Al-Qaeda of carrying out the attack citing that the mode of the attack and the explosives used are similar to previous Al-Qaeda attacks in both Hadramout governorate and elsewhere in the country.

Al-Khanbashi made clear that the attackers used a car bomb to target the security camp, noting that the blast was so strong that fragments of the explosives caused damage to eight houses near the camp.

“The security apparatuses identified the attacker who was killed in the operation,” said Al-Khanbashi, “but they avoid mentioning his name at present to secure the secrecy of the investigation.”

Abdul Elah Hayder Shay'e, a journalist who specializes in terrorism studies, told the Yemen Times that this branch of the Islamic Jihad organization is an armed group that follows the ideology of Al-Qaeda. “This is based on the idea that those who are pro-America are against Islam and consequently they are legitimate targets to attack,” said Shay'e.

Shay'e said that suicide bombings aren't restricted to Al-Qaeda, as Hamas and Hezbollah as well as other movements use them as well.

Shay'e added that the camp was targeted because it contained a residence for an anti-terrorism security unit that is responsible for tracking down and watching former fighter involved in the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts. “Hadramout governorate is home to Al-Qaeda cells and its ideology,” he said.

Concerning the group's demand that the Yemeni government pay them in order to stop suicide bombings, Shay'e maintained that Al-Qaeda doesn't use this tactic and demands ransom only when it kidnaps important figures at the national or international level.

Abdullah Ba Wazeer, head of the Hadramout local council's Service Committee, told the Yemen Times that some groups target the governate because it is “the capital of money and business.”

“Regional and international hands stand behind these terrorist attacks that aim to hinder investment and development in Hadhramout, which is considered the bridge to the development of all the other governorates,” said Ba Wazeer.

Last March Hadramout organized a real estate investment conference attended by companies from 14 different Arab and European countries.

Concerning the bombings that targeted security constructions in Hadramout recently, Ba Wazeer claimed that there must be further means provided to prevent repetition of such attacks. “A security sector [should] be established in the governorate to detect and collect data about security issues,” said Ba Wazeer. “Additionally, the process of establishing local police force should be hastened and supported.”

Hadramout is the largest Yemeni governorate consisting of 30 districts including the islands of Socotra. Al-Qaeda has taken credit for six attacks in the governate since December 2007, when two attacks were carried out against security checkpoints in Wadi Ser, injuring six security soldiers. In January, an armed group attacked 15 tourists from Belgium in the Daw'an district, which resulted in the death of two tourists and a Yemeni driver.

Two days after Daw'an attack, two soldiers were killed and five others injured in a traffic accident, according to official sources, while they were carrying out a campaign to capture the tourists' attackers. Additionally, in Daw'an, a soldier was killed and seven were injured in separate attacks by armed men who targeted two security checkpoints. Local authorities accused drug smugglers of launching the two attacks.