U.N. agencies in Yemen add extra security precautions [Archives:2008/1149/Local News]

April 24 2008

By: Yemen Times Staff
SANA'A, April 22 ) The United Nations is closing some of their offices in Yemen at least for the time being in response to security threats following recent attacks on foreign institutions and possibly related to an Al-Qaeda threat posted online two weeks ago.

Various United Nations (U.N.) sources, all of whom wished to remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of the information, confirmed that some of the U.N.'s agencies have asked staff members to work from home for the time being.

The Associated Press (AP) reported Monday that the United Nations recently put up blast walls and sandbags around the complex, which is being guarded by Yemeni security forces. The AP also reported that staff members at various U.N. agencies already have left Yemen, according to U.N. High Commission for Refugees' regional spokeswoman, Abeer Etefa.

Neither Etefa nor other U.N. sources would confirm the number of staff members who have left the country. All of the 13 U.N. agencies in Yemen are still working and there is no evidence or talk of permanent closures.

In his latest online statement over two weeks ago, Ayman Al-Zawahiri (also known as Thawahiri), who is considered second in command in Al-Qaeda under Osama Bin Laden, responded to questions posted online on various jihadist websites. During the two hour-long recording, Al-Zawahiri said, “The United Nations is an enemy of Islam and Muslims: it is the one which codified and legitimized the setting up of the state of Israel and its taking over of the Muslims' lands.””

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon denounced the statement as “”totally false and unacceptable.”” A spokesperson from the U.N. added that the Secretary General wants the U.N. to be seen as a friend of the Muslim world.

The U.N. offices in Algeria were attacked in December 2007 by a group calling themselves Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. More than 60 people were killed in the two explosions and more than 10 were U.N. staff members. Most of the dead were Algerians